Kicking Back in Hawker Country

Tuesday 4th and Friday 7th August

Yes…it’s reached that stage in the season. That time when I can relax and waste several hours at one pond. It’s a privileged position to be in; and only arrives when I’ve seen all Hampshire species.

I had two to get; the Migrant and Moorland Hawker. Somewhat late, I bagged my first Migrant in Essex last weekend, and on Tuesday I had the most fantastic display of a female Common Hawker circling the pond at Ramsdown.

She was constantly thwarted by the resident male Emperor; a vision alone as he flew at 45 degrees to engage with her 20 feet above. The battle continued, and occasionally a male Brown Hawker got caught in the affray.

After a couple of reappearances she gave in to the bully. I hung on for as long as possible, hoping she would reappear, but on this day the pond shut early. CallingĀ  into Troublefield I at least bagged a Golden-ringed to finish off the day.

Golden-ringed - male
Golden-ringed – male

On Friday I started with the path at Town Common. As soon as I turned the corner a Brown Hawker rose to parry along the path, giving false hope that he’d rest close by. No such luck.

On my return I swore the same Brown Hawker reappeared to mock me. It was while I was searching high and low for him I found an immature female Moorland Hawker perched high in the gorse. Fair enough – might as well do the circuit.

Surprisingly there were still a few tattered Silver-spotted Blues within the heath, and the cloud cover meant the Emerald and Small Red were sheltering around the pond margins. So too were the Black Darters.

Black Darter - imm male
Black Darter – imm male

Regrettably I only saw one more Hawker, and that was a Brown who appeared from nowhere as I was attempting to grab a shot of a mating pair.

Black Darters - pair in cop
Black Darters – pair in cop

Over at Ramsdown I disturbed a Migrant in the clearing, and at the pond I was greeted by the sight of a male Moorland cruising low around the margins. I had the briefest time with him before the resident Emperor saw him and a Brown Hawker off. He was an antagonistic git, this one!

Emperor - male in-flight
Emperor – male in-flight

Robbed of my prize, I half-heartedly shot a few in-flighters just to keep busy. The Moorland returned and flew high for a short while before the Emperor repeated his dominance, and that was the last I saw of him.

Still nothing flying at the clearing, so I checked the heath pond where a solitary Keeled Skimmer joined the Black Darters and countless Common Emeralds. They at least are thriving here.

I hadn’t checked the hill pond for a month or so, and wondered if it was worth it. It was barely more than a muddy puddle but enough to grab the attention of a female Moorland Hawker.

Once again I was treated to the enthralling flight display as she followed a wide and high triangular path above the pond. After realising I wasn’t going anywhere she flew down, nervously scouting the puddle for the right place to lay her eggs.

Moorland Hawker - female
Moorland Hawker – female

I kept as still as I could, having witnessed the shyness of the females on many occasions. The wrong move would have called an end to her labours and my enjoyment.

Moorland Hawker - female
Moorland Hawker – female

She certainly made up for missing the male earlier, and rounded the day off nicely.