Further Adventures in North Hampshire

I’m finding it a little difficult to catch up this week. A perfect period of sunny weather has seen me out in the field rather than hunched over a PC. Instead of a huge multi-day post I’ve decided to break it down into smaller portions.

Bramshill Plantation
Tuesday 10th June

Long Water, Bramshill Plantation
Long Water, Bramshill Plantation

I’d already planned a revisit to Bramshill Plantation to build on my scouting trip last week. My prime objective was to find access to another pond, a task that proved very tricky without the benefit of local knowledge, but nevertheless provided some fantastic areas of interest

Red-eyed Damselfly - male
Red-eyed Damselfly – male
.I began by trying to locate the opening where I saw two chaps exit on the previous visit, and my first attempt led me into a superb scrubby clearing. I must have disturbed at least half-a-dozen Emperors, countless Black-tailed Skimmers, Four-spotted Chasers and a fine host of Damsels.

I could’ve spent the day in this clearing alone, but I was focused on locating the pond which still eluded me! I ended up going around in an extended circle, leading right back to where I entered.

Slightly miffed, but unperturbed, I attempted to find another entrance by back-tracking and circling to the north, only to find a fence and ditch thwarting any attempt. I followed the track to the east and found an opening which was a sort-of path, albeit littered with fallen trees and foot-wrenching scrub.

However once I fought my way through I found myself on the northern shore; a nice, large area brimming with teneral Black-tailed Skimmers and a wealth of other surprises.

Black-tailed Skimmer - Teneral female
Black-tailed Skimmer – Teneral female

I spent some time in this area searching the scrub and investigating the shore, noticing a couple of beach-type accessible areas on the opposite bank. But how to get there? Certainly not from here as the far side of the clearing was a frustrating cul-de-sac. I fought my way back to the eastern track and continued looking for other points of entry, until I reached the track which runs to the north of Long Water.

While searching the small clearings opposite the shore I noticed a teasing gap near the far end. Here at last was a way in. The water’s edge was alive with Common Blue, Azure, Blue-tailed and Red-eyed Damselflies with Four-spotted Chasers and Black-tailed Skimmers battling with each other and the occasional Emperor.

The second little beach had more of the same and my attention was grabbed by a rustling in the reeds. Further investigation revealed a female Emperor who had seized an unfortunate Four-spotted Chaser. She precariously rose with her substantial prey and alighted a short distance away.

Emperor - female - feeding on Four-spotted Chaser
Emperor – female – feeding on Four-spotted Chaser

As I was grabbing a few shots I was audibly aware of her crunching away the head and starting in on the thorax. I always thought the wings would be discarded first, but as you can see the wings are still attached. She allowed me enough time before rising again – out of reach..

On the third little shoreline I had a male Downy fly through briefly while I concentrated on some Red-eyed opportunities.

Male Red-eyed and Common Blue Damselflies
Male Red-eyed and Common Blue Damselflies

Returning to Long Water I explored the southern shore, finding endless enjoyment from the increased activity with every new sunny spell. This is what it’s all about, and I wasted many minutes until returning to the car for a spot of lunch.

Common Blue Damselflies bother Female Emperor ovipositing
Common Blue Damselflies bother Female Emperor ovipositing

Warren Heath

I knew immediately as soon as I returned to the car I’d get itchy feet for Warren Heath, which was to close to ignore. I avoided any attempt to search the upper valley and instead concentrated on the path along the stream to see what wonders it would throw up today.

Emperor - male
Emperor – male

At least the activity on the water was better than a week ago, if still a little subdued. Unfortunately no showing of Brilliant Emerald today, but a Downy kept me occupied.

Downy Emerald - male in flight
Downy Emerald – male in flight

Coming up next – Scarce Blue-tailed Delight At Latchmore

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