Making The Most of Dragonfly Week

Monday 17th July

Given some unusual good weather I met up with Richard Peglar to the New Forest delights and to locate a few of his most wanted species. The Keeled were the first to show just in from the road with a couple of males present, closely followed by Beautiful Demoiselles, Southern Damselflies and our first of several Golden-ringed.

Golden Ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) - male
Golden Ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) – male

Such was the amount of activity that it took a while for us to reach the key area where an Emperor was holding court over the pool – a different individual from two weeks prior as this one didn’t have a leg dangling down!

The Keeled, although plentiful, weren’t as dominating as a fortnight ago but they were still in good numbers; even a few tenerals still rising from the heather and the occasional female.

Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens) - female
Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens) – female

However it was the Golden-ringed who really impressed with about a dozen separate individuals present between the bridge and the mire.

Southern Damselflies were in good numbers and there were reasonable numbers of Small Red – quite a few paired up 50+ metres uphill from the stream canoodling in the heather.

Small Red Damselfly (Ceriagrion tenellum) - pair in cop
Small Red Damselfly (Ceriagrion tenellum) – pair in cop

Needless to say Richard was more than satisfied on the species on offer, and a quick look in at Ipley Cross provided some Black Darters for us both to add to our yearly – or indeed – life list.

Tuesday 18th July

Today it was a guided tour around Bramshill. I had received an email from Terry Walker who despite having spent several days at the site he’d barely encountered a thing and decided a few pointers were needed in field craft.

Barely down the track we encountered Beautiful Demoiselles in their usual sunny corner, along with the usual supporting cast of Common Blue and Blue-tailed.

The grassy track provided perfectly today with male and female Emperor and immature Southern and Migrant Hawkers feeding along the treeline; the latter two stopping to perch, and a pleasing bonus for yours truly as these were my first sightings this season.

Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) - immature male
Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) – immature male

Of course the problem with gorse is it rarely provides a golden photo opportunity but I was happy enough to grab a couple of record shots until later when both will be more agreeable.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - immature male
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) – immature male

Next a tour of the pond clearing, which is desperately overgrown and in need of a shave, or failing that some more foot traffic to keep the vague path clear. A couple of Brown Hawkers and Emperor were present along with Azure, Common Blue, Emerald and Blue-tailed and at the green pool they were joined by Black-tailed and Keeled Skimmers, Common and Ruddy Darters and a male Broad-bodied Chaser.

At Long Lake the Black-tailed Skimmers were way down on numbers but still enough to keep the interest up while more Common Darters and the odd Migrant Hawker paraded down hawker alley.

At the shore we made our way along to the rushes admiring the over-water activity where a couple of hardy Four-spotted Chasers were hanging on in there with a tired Emperor and equally subdued Brown Hawker.

Across the lake more Chaser, Skimmer and even Darter action sharing space with a male and Emperor and a female Brown Hawker ovipositing into the shady shallows. Besides the swarms of Common Blue and plentiful Emeralds were both large and Small Red-eyed damselflies, perfect for showing the difference.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum) - male
Small Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum) – male

Needless to say Terry got to appreciate the wonders of Bramshill by taking a little more time to explore and the Southern and Migrant were a nice bonus for yours truly. Now all we need is a little more sunshine so I can get out and indulge myself.