On Home Ground

Tuesday 30th June

On Tuesday I planned to meet up with Steve Covey to hopefully find him an aurantiaca female Scarce Blue-tailed. Sue had taken the day off, and Neil Phillips had expressed an interest, and while we were awaiting Steve we met up with Neil further upstream.

Scarce Blue-tailed were already visible along the flushes which still had water, but it was the aurantiaca which was the target today. A finger-tip search of the heather and grass was surprisingly uneventful, until Sue let out a shout.

Here was a rather beautiful ‘transitional’ female, the colour of which I’ve not seen before. Unfortunately¬† I missed my opportunity to get a photograph, but for the record it resembles the Richard Lewington drawing found in the dragonfly guide books. Here’s a link to Neil’s photo.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CIz1lzgWcAAYw4j.jpg

A quest for Raft Spiders led Neil off to other pastures while the rest of us continued with our search. No aurantiaca to be found, but a few mature females showed themselves.

Scarce Blue-tailed damselfly - female
Scarce Blue-tailed damselfly – female

We managed to find quite a few more males, and Steve consoled himself with a mating pair. Other than that it was mainly Small Red, who seem to be thriving everywhere this season.

Keeled Skimmers were more abundant than last time and occasionally offered a decent photo opportunity.

Keeled Skimmer - male
Keeled Skimmer – male

The stream showed a few more Beautiful Demoiselles than of late, and we even had a Golden-ringed towards the end, but it was a Broad-bodied Chaser who gave the last good opportunity of the day.

Broad-bodied Chaser - male
Broad-bodied Chaser – male

Wednesday 1st July

A more productive day than Tuesday, with a visit first to Pennington to connect with the Small Red-eyed.

Small Red-eyed damselfly - male
Small Red-eyed damselfly – male

There wasn’t¬† a great deal on the pond; just a male & female Emperor, a tatty Four-spotted Chaser and some Black-tailed Skimmers.

Black-tailed Skimmer - male
Black-tailed Skimmer – male

Among the undergrowth were several more damsels, including several pairs of Blue-tailed and Azure.

Azure damselflies - pair in cop
Azure damselflies – pair in cop

Still not as many Blue-tailed as usual, but it’ hard to resist a good opportunity.

Blue-tailed damselfly - male
Blue-tailed damselfly – male

As the only other activity was from fresh Common Darters, I decided to move on to Crockford Stream, where I bumped into Stephen Darlington; a nice surprise. We always seem to meet up somewhere in the field.

The main basin was surprisingly subdued, with only Beautiful Demoiselles, Keeled Skimmers and just the occasional visit from a Golden-ringed – one who’s territory extended for a good length of the stream.

A female Emperor was choosing the pool to oviposit, and the Bog Myrtle was decorated with the usual Southern and Small Red damsels. A little further upstream I found the first willing Golden-ringed.

Golden-ringed - male
Golden-ringed – male

I couldn’t resist the walk upstream to my favourite spot. The walk was punctuated with several more Golden-ringed, Keeled, Southern and Small Red, but the pool at the top didn’t have a patrolling Emperor this time.

At least the stream had a resident Golden-ringed which provided the perfect opportunity.

Golden-ringed - male
Golden-ringed – male

Back downstream Stephen was still present, and a Keeled Skimmer was hard to resist against the water’s reflections.

Keeled Skimmer - male
Keeled Skimmer – male

Some connoisseurs reject Crockford Stream as too commercial, or popular, but it remains the best place to grab your Golden-ringed opportunities and in fine weather the light is always special.

It didn’t earn it’s reputation for nothing!

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Please note:- The car parks at Crockford are closed until July 31st to prevent dog walkers from disturbing ground nesting birds. However parking is still possible a short distance away at Norley Inclosure.