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. Calling into Troublefield I at least bagged a Golden-ringed to finish off the day.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
She certainly made up for missing the male earlier, and rounded the day off nicely.