A fine weather forecast for Wednesday saw me once again out early morning, this time at Ramsdown Forest where the only dragons I saw on the heath were a few Scarce Chasers, and on the only remaining pond with water were a couple of Four-spotted Chasers.
Tired of the still windy conditions I decided Troublefield was the better option. On arrival I bumped into a working party from Dorset Wildlife Trust, there to do some spring cleaning. They were busy cutting down the reeds, a practice which didn’t really sit well with the leader – knowing they were a refuge for a lot of insect life.
I decided to concentrate on the back meadow which had overgrown considerably since my last visit, with chest-high nettles making the going tough. Once again there were several Beautiful Demoiselles and even some Banded, Large Red and Common Blue Damsels, yet more Scarce Chasers who were not so willing to stay put, and – my goal for the day – a fresh male Golden-ringed Dragonfly.
More than satisfied with the Golden-ringed I headed over to Linford Bottom where things were really kicking off at last. Large Red, Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damsels along with a couple of Male Emperors, a couple of Downys’, several Four-spotted and Broad-bodied Chasers and among the heath even a Scarce Chaser and another Golden-ringed.
This is the first time I’ve seen Scarce Chaser at this location and was a real bonus. The Golden-ringed wasn;t hanging around for a shot though.
Once again time was scarce so I decided to concentrate on the Emperors. Far to easy to take for granted, they truly are magnificent beasts and real masters of the air. I spent a good hour watching their acrobatics, occasional clashes and sheer majesty to exclusion of all others. I also decided to attempt some in-flighters – no easy task when faced with such a fast and unpredictable flyer.
The distance didn’t help either, but it was fun none-the-less
Again I could have stayed there all day, but time was tight and I had to cut short my visit. As the forecast had promised a good day, Sue & I headed over to Crockford Stream in the afternoon in the hope of seeing more Golden-ringed and hopefully some Southern Damselflies.
On arrival we saw several female Broad-bodied Chasers around the margins, several males clashing along the stream, a reasonable population of Beautiful Demoiselles – although far less than I was expecting – and about a dozen Southern Damselflies mixing it with the Large Reds.
After such a fine morning I was a little disappointed with the lack of activity and decent photo opportunities so we headed over to Hatchet small pond where even less was going on, although we did spot a few teneral Black-tailed Skimmers which made the call worthwhile.
From there it was a short trip to Hawkhill where I hoped there would be a few Golden-ringed along the rides. Big disappointment! The Forestry Commision have stripped away vast areas of pine leaving the area wide open and very unfamiliar. This has opened up the rides with trees only bordering one side of the main path with clearance all the way down to the boggy area.
These warm, sheltered rides were a haven for dragonflies and a certainty for spotting Golden-ringed, and Hawkers later in the season. Now the clearance has taken away the natural windbreak, desecrated the refuge of ferns and gorse and despoiled the gullies which were alive with Common Lizards.
Even though we spotted a few female Broad-bodied Chasers and a reasonable population of Beautiful Demoiselles down along the shelter of the stream, the experience left me cold, much like the weather which had by now clouded over.
Not much left to do then but return home and celebrate the positive aspects of the day. I guess sometimes you can have too much of a good thing and need to be brought back down to earth. Much like those pine trees…..