Sunday 17th July

Still catching up after the downtime.

At last a change for the better weather-wise, although the warm blanket of cloud doesn’t make for decent slumber. By 4.00am I’d probably had all the sleep I was going to get, so getting the morning routine out of the way I was on the road by 6.30am.

I started at Ramsdown, hoping to find an early hawker but the gorse was empty. The Silver-studded Blues were already awake and foraging around the heather. So to were a few Black Darter and Common Emerald.

Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) - male,
Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) – male

These proved to be the main feature of the morning, so I trundled across to Town Common where I could enjoy them at my leisure in more agreeable surroundings. Here to the gorse along hawker alley (most sites have one) was also lacking any form of hawker decoration. I did wonder whether it was a tad early.

I walked the length of the old railway, turning onto the heath just before the end of the reserve and following the track around checking every gorse stand and clearance.

The paths had receded from the deep puddles of a fortnight ago and some of the shallow ponds were already showing signs of drying out. Still plenty of Black Darters, Emeralds and Small Reds to amuse myself with.

Common Emerald (Lestes sponsa) - female
Common Emerald (Lestes sponsa) – female

There’s something magical about the heath in mid July. The fresh pink & purple blooms providing nectar for those Silver-studded who flutter fairy-like around your feet while glistening tenerals bounce along the heather tops. I sensibly put my bag down and switched to macro to make the best of this paradise.

Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) - female
Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) – female

The tenerals had a preference for one heather type, which interestingly meant they all headed towards a certain bush. Thankfully a few of them perched high enough to allow some isolation.

Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) - teneral male
Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) – teneral male

I spent a good long while here, enjoying the freedom of just taking photos.

Small Red Damselfly (Ceriagrion tenellum) - male
Small Red Damselfly (Ceriagrion tenellum) – male

The ability to take a lot more time indulging has been a feature of this season. The thrill of the chase is immensely satisfying, but just hanging around and drinking it all in is what summer should be about.

Common Emerald (Lestes sponsa) - male
Common Emerald (Lestes sponsa) – male

I’ve also deliberately neglected to join the race this season. It’s not about being first. Best wait until the moments arrive. Those Southern, Moorland and Migrant Hawkers can all wait a while longer. Plenty of time yet.

Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) - male, Hurn, Dorset - 17/07/2016
Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) – male

Speaking of hawkers, I couldn’t resist a look down hawker alley on the way out. You know, just in case. I wasn’t expecting a male Brown Hawker. He wasn’t expecting me either, having most of his beady eye hidden behind a gorse seed casing.

Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) - male
Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) – male

I grabbed that shot through a small hole in the gorse, and as soon as I moved to obtain a better shot, the game was up, and so was he. A moment to round off a day of splendid moments among the heather.