June is proving to be a real washout with no let up in the constant cloud, showers, torrential downpours and just the briefest of sunny spells.
Heavy skies and the promise of a sunny break forced me north to Bransbury Common, near Andover on Thursday 16th. This is an area I’ve long wanted to explore further, and perhaps wasn’t the best of days to revisit. It was 11.00am before the rain stopped, and I received a thorough soaking from the undergrowth as I made my way down the path to the River Dever.
To reach the common I had to negotiate a ford, the water level swollen from the heavy rains, and just made it without the waters flowing over the top of my wellies. All I saw dragonfly wise was a single Banded Demoiselle, but at least there were several Large Skippers and plentiful Orchids to keep me occupied.
On Friday afternoon Sue & I took a chance on the weather and visited Pennington where we managed to see a few Common & Blue-tailed Damsels before the heavens opened. At least I came home with a a cracking Grass Snake capture for my troubles.
On Saturday we revisited Pennington with Doug, fresh from his two week break. Flying over the pond were Four-spotted Chasers and a lone Emperor. The overgrown foliage were harbouring several damsels, including Common Blues, Azures, Large Reds and hundreds of Blue-tailed.
Our prize of the day came with a couple of female Golden-ringed who we disturbed in a sheltered hollow. Both had damaged wings, which was unfortunate, but nevertheless it is always a joy to see this magnificent beast.
Further around the pond there was a section of sheltered reeds bursting with Blue-tailed Damsels, all colour forms present with some in cop
The driving wind and threatening cloud once again cut short our visit, but we did take a walk through the forest rides at Holmsley to an area usually buzzing with activity. No such luck today though, the rain having caught us up. The most significant event was the falling of a tree in the stormy conditions, which we probably only heard because we were there…
The forecast for south Hampshire was once again unfavourable for Sunday, so Sue & I headed north again for a butterfly fix at Alice Holt followed by a visit to Thursley Common.
Small pockets of warm sunshine meant we had some fabulous butterfly activity, although not as much as usual. The highlight of the visit being a Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth nectaring on nettle blossom.
By the time we reached Thursley the cloud had thickened and we feared the worst. Nothing at all was flying on the pond, and nothing was disturbed except the odd damsel in the marshy area – mostly Common Blues and Blue-tailed.
Walking over the heath did at least disturb some dragons. An Emerald was seen flying fast away from us, but whether it was Downy or Brilliant we couldn’t confirm. Shortly afterwards among the heather I found a few White-legged Damsels
I also spotted a teneral Small Red, not the sharpest photo, but a record shot anyway
Reaching an area I knew was good for Black Darters and Emerald Damselflies, I walked through the heather and was rewarded with a single teneral specimen of each.
along with a single teneral Keeled Skimmer
Also taking refuge in the heather were several very brightly-coloured Four-spotted Chasers
We continued on and took a circular route along the boardwalk past the bog pools with no dragon or damsel to be seen, but at least there were several gravid female and the odd male Common Lizard basking on the warm wood
So not a bad week considering, but at this time of year it should be so much better. Unfortunately the weather forecast for the coming week is more of the same, but I shall be out regardless. Just have to look a lot harder….