There is many a time, especially this year, when you’d be forgiven for thinking the met office are hedging their bets when it comes to their weather forecast. Take Tuesday July 17th for instance. Light cloud cover with just the tiniest of sunny spells over the forest.
The reality was somewhat different. At Christchurch Common from 10.30am to 12.30pm I was basking in bright sunlight for most of the time. Ideal then for a spot of dragonfly watching.
Pretty much the same candidates as last week. Black and Common Darters, Emerald and Azure Damsels.
Didn’t see any Small Reds this time, but my eyes were scanning the horizon for larger species.
Towards the end of my visit I had a female Brown Hawker rise and disappear. Still getting the better of me.
Nothing larger at Ramsdown this time, and after a short recce I thought I’d take a look at Troublefield. The water levels had receded, but the ground was still waterlogged. A hidden hole caught me off balance and I fell sideways into the soggy mire.
Surely a reward? Alas only more Azure, some Large Red and both Banded & Beautiful Demoiselles. Seven species in total, and a tad disappointed I didn’t see a Southern Hawker this day.
Thursday looked promising. A few showers if you were unlucky, but in the main good sunny spells.
Pennington was first up, with Blue-tailed well down on usual populations. Usually a good indicator, they didn’t prove wrong. Just a few Azures, Large Reds, Brilliant and Banded Demoiselles.
The only larger species I saw were teneral Common Darters – again well down on previous years. A detour along the rides usually flushes out a Hawker or two, but the only real bonus were the butterflies. Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Marbled White and Large & Small Skippers.
Deciding another trip around the pond wouldn’t reveal anymore, I took the top path back to the gate and found a very nice surprise. An immature female Small Red-eyed Damselfly perched in the foliage several metres from the water’s edge.
I should point out that despite the sun, the only pond activity were from the hardy Azure and a few Blue-tailed.
To drive back from Lymington towards Southampton without visiting Crockford Stream is never an option, and now the car park is open there is no conscientious excuse.
Still saturated and swift, the stream at least threw up a few Southern and Small Red Damselflies and a few Beautiful Demoiselles.
The only larger prey in the first section were a few patrolling Keeled Skimmers and roosting Common Darters.
A quick call into the pond on the way home threw up a couple of Broad-bodied Chasers and yet more Common Darters
Sunday was a day when all enthusiasts would be out, and even at 11.00am the car park at Thursley was more than full. A party of photographers probably made up half, while the rest could well have been Natural England volunteers.
Around The Moat only a few damsels – Large Red, Blue-tailed, Common Blue and Red-eyed. Further around a couple of Downy Emeralds.
Onto the heath we had a female Southern Hawker, Keeled & Black-tailed Skimmers, Black & Common Darters, Four-spotted Chasers and some frustrating Brown Hawkers.
Among the heather were several Small Red and Emerald Damselflies
There was reasonable activity around the boardwalks with a good few Emperors patrolling the water.
Nowhere near the numbers of Black Darters normally seen this time of year, but I think they’re a little late at Thursley.
Back towards Hawker Alley, near the end of the boardwalk, we had a male Brown Hawker hawking the heather and gorse to the right in search of a tasty snack. Perfect. I had a feeling he’d perch when he caught something, and he did.
That was the shot which made my day, and it almost went downhill from there. We did a further circuit and decided to move on to another location. but the glorious weather had brought everyone out!
Never mind – a butterfly feast at Alice Holt would wrap up the day nicely. Except there were hardly any flying – terribly disappointing compared to last week.
Thank you then to this obliging Golden-ringed to wrap the day up nicely.