It was inevitable that the warm, sunny days couldn’t continue. The past week has seen almost constant cloud cover, stiff breezes and just the odd smattering of rain. This in turn has subdued nearly all activity until the afternoons.
On Thursday 12th I spent an uneventful morning scouring the banks of Ober Water and the surrounding heaths & bogs for signs of life. My main intention was to hopefully find some early White-legged Damsels and maybe – just maybe – an early Scarce Blue-tail. No such luck, not even a single Beautiful Demoiselle graced the banks of the stream, although there were a couple of Four-spotted Chasers flying off into the distance.
Duckhole Bog was also devoid of life. Not a damsel or dragon to be seen. I returned to the banks of the stream and waited an hour hoping that the brief sunny spells would produce a sighting before reluctantly moving on.
I paid a brief visit to Broomy Pond where a few Large Reds and Azures were in attendance. Whilst there I received a call from Doug who excitedly informed me that a mass emergence of Emperors was underway at Dunyeates Pond in Poole. Maybe a visit to Dorset would’ve been a better idea!
Starved of my dragon fix, Sue & I took an afternoon trip to our favourite pond at Cadnam Common. The cloud had broken up a little to produce some decent sunny spells and the water was alive with Broad-bodied Chasers.
Over a dozen mature and young males were fighting over 3 females. There were several couplings followed by immediate ovipositing where the successful male would try to defend his mate.
With so many males around this was no easy task and many battles ensued. This was a spectacle to observe, but you had to feel a little sorry for the poor female who undefended was soon engaged in unwelcome couplings
Besides BBC’s there were a few Four-spotted Chasers and Downy Emeralds holding their own amid the chaos. Surprisingly there were few damsels to be seen. Usually the pond margins are alive with Azures and Large Reds, but we only saw a couple of Red-eyeds and a single Blue-tail. It’s possible the stiff breeze kept them hunkered down among the islands reeds or perhaps the populations had been decimated by the many dragons or the pair of Swallows who appeared frequently over the water.
On Saturday we had an invite to Clive Farrell’s home in Dorset for a butterfly bonanza. The grounds contain many sculptured ponds where Azures were swarming in the surrounding foliage. Several spent Emperor exuvia were attached to the reeds but the only dragons on the wing in the breeze were Four-spotted chasers. A visit on a more dragon-friendly day is a must.
On Monday 16th I visited Bentley Wood, mainly for the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, but did visit the ponds where only a few Large Reds were seen. However I did encounter a lone female Broad-bodied Chaser along one of the forest rides.
In such dull weather conditions I’ve decided to concentrate on butterflies in the mornings and wait until the afternoons for dragons. On Tuesday 17th I followed my visit to Martin Down with a visit to Canford Magna on the banks of the River Stour after a tip from one of my Flickr friends.
Last year The Stour proved excellent for Banded Demoiselles, White-legged Damsels and Brown Hawkers so I was anxious to survey this new location.
There were plenty of Bandeds but the main prize during my short visit were hundreds of teneral White-legged Damselflies taking refuge in the lush bank-side grass.
I only had a half-hour and promised myself a return visit to explore further in the near future.
Once again Dorset has produced the goods ahead of Hampshire, but this good fortune means WLD’s should appear along Ober Water shortly. I’m just waiting for a better day before I venture down that way…