Doug and I had penciled in an afternoon at Ramsdown in the hope of blagging a hawker or two. Any hawker would do, but an encounter with a Common Hawker would make my day. We didn’t expect to see any Browns, fearing they’re all but over, and if there are any still around they were likely to be rather worn and tatty.
We met at the gate just prior to 1.00pm and walked down the track to the feeding area. On a good day you should expect to see something along the path, but not today. We’d had (much needed) heavy rain overnight and there was still a chill in the air when the predominantly blue sky was interrupted by one of the many scattered dark grey clouds.
In the clearing were a couple of Common and Black Darters low down in the heather, and it wasn’t too long before we found our first flying Common Hawkers. We had two males patrolling the treeline, but not one of them landed in sight. No matter, as we were soon rewarded with a female Southern Hawker.
We also had a male Southern joining the Commons, but as we didn’t get another perched opportunity we made our way to the upper pond. Mostly inaccessible and deceptively deep, at least this pond still had a fair amount of water. I’m of the opinion this may be a floating pond on top of a very deep bog! Certainly it’s elevation almost guarantees a substantial depth, a hazard not worth getting wet for!
The best position for observation and photography is unfortunately at odds with the direction of the sun, restricting you to to a small window to the right for any over-water action. I didn’t have to wait long for a prize and I shouted for Doug to join me as a female Common Hawker was busy ovipositing in the overhangs of the bank.
Typically nervous, she proved a little difficult to get close to, eventually preferring to continue her business far out of reach of anything other than full zoom.
A welcome sighting which was improved further by the visit of a male scouring the bank. No photos this time as he didn’t choose to stay around long, especially once he found the female and took her over the treeline out of sight!
Thwarted once again, but a copped pair of Common Hawkers is worth waiting for. Robbed of both our subjects, we considered going back to the clearing but were soon interrupted by the welcome sight of a very friendly male Southern Hawker. So friendly he needed the macro lens, but worried he might disappear while I was changing lenses I persevered and at least managed a shot.
After a short while he left too, and besides the odd Black Darter and Emerald Damselfly, the pond became very quiet. Back at the clearing we had another couple of sightings of a male Common Hawker and a hawking Migrant on the path back to the car, but again no perched opportunities so we decided to give Troublefield a try.
No Migrants, or anything else except a few Common Darters along the first section, but a female Southern flew up ahead of us and continued into the other meadow. On reaching the meadow we had two or three male Southern patrolling small sections of the gloomy channel, and an brief appearance of a female.
At least on our way back we had a male perched, albeit 3 metres up a tree.
The north meadow was now host to the cattle, who had made walking with care a necessity! Their very presence meant we’d be lucky to find much, although we did have a brief sighting of a male and a female Southern and the inevitable Common Darters.
So not many sightings, but what we did see certainly made the afternoon worthwhile.