Everyone’s Favourite

Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly

The Golden-ringed Dragonflies are gaining good populations in the New Forest right now – along fast-flowing gravel-based streams, on heath’s and along forest rides.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly

They can be hard to follow in-flight, disappearing out of vision when the background doesn’t supply a good contrast.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly

However they do land reasonably frequently and can perch very close if you remain still and don’t make any sudden movements.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly

On the heath and along forest rides they can be very well camouflaged when perched on heather, bracken and other foliage and only make their presence known when they fly up ahead of you.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly

They usually land again after a short while and stealth is needed to approach them for a good photo opportunity.

Chasing Scarce Chasers

A fulfilling week with better success locating Scarce Chasers at Testwood Lakes and Ramsdown Forest just over the county border. The females in particular are magnificent in their fresh vibrant colours.

Female Scarce Chaser
Female Scarce Chaser
Female Scarce Chaser
Female Scarce Chaser

Young males start out similar, if nowhere near as vibrant, before obtaining their predominantly blue colouring

Young male Scarce Chaser
Young male Scarce Chaser
Mature male Scarce Chaser
Mature male Scarce Chaser

On Wednesday I visited a few favourite locations in the forest and as well as hundreds of Keeled Skimmers was rewarded with my first sightings of the Golden-ringed Dragonfly

Mature Male Keeled Skimmer
Mature Male Keeled Skimmer
Immature Male Keeled Skimmer
Immature Male Keeled Skimmer
Female Keeled Skimmer
Female Keeled Skimmer
Golden-ringed Dragonfly Feeding
Golden-ringed Dragonfly Feeding

On Thursday I spent an afternoon at Crockford Stream, always a reliable site for diverse species activity. Southern Damsels were in abundance along with Beautiful Demoiselles, Large Reds, Azures, Keeled Skimmers, Broad-bodied Chasers, Emperors and Golden-ringed.

Southern Damselflies
Southern Damselflies
Southern Damselflies
Southern Damselflies
Male Emperor
Male Emperor
Male Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Male Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Keeled Skimmers in Mating Wheel
Keeled Skimmers in Mating Wheel

There was also a single male Hairy Dragonfly patrolling the stream, an unusual sighting at this location and far from it’s usual haunts. Unfortunately the sighting was all too brief and no photo opportunity presented itself, however the same individual was spotted the previous day by my friend Doug Overton, who did at least manage a photograph or two whcih can be seen here:-

http://www.newforestdragonflies.com/NFDForum.html

On Friday I walked from Mill Lawn following Ober Water up as far as Markway Bridge and besides the usual Beautiful Demoiselles, Large Reds, Azures, Southerns, Keeled Skimmers and Broad-bodied Chasers there were also Golden-ringed and probably most surprising a colony of White-legged Damselflies at the far end among the heather

Female White-legged Damselfly
Female White-legged Damselfly
Female White-legged Damselfly
Female White-legged Damselfly
Female White-legged Damselfly
Female White-legged Damselfly

There were also teneral Small Reds around, but no mature specimens. A week or two should see them in reasonable numbers as this site has proved reliable in the past. I did also look for Scarce Blue-tails among the feed-in channels, but only normal Blue-tails were present.

I strongly believe that the Ober Water has as much diversity as Crockford although spread out a lot more and is well worth a visit.

White-legged and Scarce Blue-tailed Damselflies

On Sunday afternoon I promised myself a return trip to upper Ober Water in search of more White-legged and those pesky Scarce Blue-tails. Fabulously quiet and tourist free, the peace only slightly shattered by traffic along the A35 and a stallion fight which I unwillingly became involved in!

Male Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly
Male Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly
Male White-legged Damselfly
Male White-legged Damselfly
Male White-legged Damselfly
Male White-legged Damselfly
Male Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly
Male Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly
Female Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly
Female Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly
Female White-legged Damselfly
Female White-legged Damselfly

Titchfield Haven and Testwood Lakes

On Saturday we had arranged to meet Doug Overton for a visit to Titchfield in the hope of spotting and photographing a Hairy Dragonfly or two before their season’s end. We arrived just after 9.30am and spent a couple of hours observing our quarry hawking the pond and the side channels, but had to be content with photographing other species – including yet another early Common Darter, a striking Four-spotted Chaser, male and female Emperors, a female Black-tailed Skimmer and the usual Azures and Blue-tails.

Mating Azure Damselflies
Mating Azure Damselflies
Four-spotted Chaser
Four-spotted Chaser
Mating Blue-tailed Damselflies
Mating Blue-tailed Damselflies
Male Emperor
Male Emperor
Female Black-tailed Skimmer
Female Black-tailed Skimmer

After nearly 3 hours we finally got our main prize as a male Hairy took off from the pond and landed high in the trees to feed on a Large Red Damselfly

Male Hairy Dragonfly feeding on Large Red Damselfly
Male Hairy Dragonfly feeding on Large Red Damselfly

After a celebratory cuppa, we parted company with an elated Doug and headed over to Testwood Lakes in search of more Scarce Chasers. This time we were lucky with spotting both sexes along with some male Black-tailed Skimmers.

Male Black-tailed Skimmer
Male Black-tailed Skimmer

Return To Testwood

Following on from Wednesday’s visit, I returned to Testwood on Friday afternoon in search of those elusive Scarce Chasers – which were still living up to their name! I did a full circuit of the lakes and as well as Azures, Common Blues and Blue-tails there were hundreds of Banded Demoiselles alongside the River Blackwater.

On returning to Alder Gully Pond I finally saw some dragon activity – a single female Emperor ovipositing.

Female Emperor Ovipositing
Female Emperor Ovipositing

Elated at actually witnessing a dragonfly on the pond, I vowed to return later on that evening, and was finally blessed with my first Scarce Chaser

Male Scarce Chaser
Male Scarce Chaser

Testwood Lakes and Badminston Common

Last Wednesday I spent some time at Testwood Lakes in search of Scarce Chasers which had been sighted and reported on the BDS site. No luck and no sightings of any dragons. Plenty of Damselfly activity, even though the foliage was wet from a night’s rain.

Blue-tailed Damselfly
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Azure Damselfly Feeding
Azure Damselfly Feeding

From there I paid a visit to Badminston, site of some wonderful damsel and dragon activity last year. The main footpath through the gravel workings is still closed even though it was only meant to be temporary. Further investigation revealed that they have completely dug over the path, as well as excavating areas of the old gravel workings, including destroying the corner section of reeds – so vital for breeding activity last season.

Common Blue Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly

Somewhat disappointed and angry at the commercial desecration of such a valuable site, I continued across the common where Common Blues were plentiful, and finally found the fishing pond which had eluded me last year. Azures and Blue-tails were in abundance along with Red-eyeds and a single male Emperor and a couple of Downy Emeralds hawking the pond edge.

Blue-tailed Damselfly
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Mating Azure Damselflies
Mating Azure Damselflies
Red-eyed Damselflies
Red-eyed Damselflies

After witnessing a few Keeled Skimmers along the walk back, I returned to Testwood and finally found a dragonfly – an early Common Darter

Common Darter
Common Darter

Titchfield Haven

Titchfield Haven is a reasonably local nature reserve which is national famous for it’s birdlife. Yesterday they were hosting an open day – without charge – in an effort to draw in more visitors. We were expecting swarming hordes, but there were surprisingly few visitors during the 3 hours we stayed.

Mating Pair of Azure Damselflies
Mating Pair of Azure Damselflies

Our main reason for being there was for the Hairy Dragonflies which are approaching the end of their season, and has proved a reliable site for me previously. On a recent visit I was lucky enough to photograph two ‘perched’ – which is a real bonus as this species is reknown for constantly being in flight and landing out of view.

Male Emperor In Flight
Male Emperor In Flight

On arrival there was plenty of damsel activity with hundreds of Large Reds, Azures and Blue-tails. Banded Demoiselles were also on the wing. An increase in temperature and a brief glimpse of the sun brought out the dragonflies with Four-spotted Chasers being the first on the wing followed closely by the elusive Hairy’s and joined by a very active male Emperor.

Male Emperor At Rest
Male Emperor At Rest

There was also a female Emperor in attendance laying eggs among the reeds and careful searching provided a fresh and very vibrant Four-spotted Chaser drying off among the reeds.

Fresh Four-spotted Chaser
Fresh Four-spotted Chaser
Fresh Four-spotted Chaser
Fresh Four-spotted Chaser

The highlight of the day was a chance to observe and photograph two Hairy Dragonflies at rest among the willow away from the pond. They stayed there long enough to break out the macro lens and we both went away very happy indeed to observe these fantastic hawkers at close quarters.

Male Hairy Dragonfly
Male Hairy Dragonfly
Male Hairy Dragonfly
Male Hairy Dragonfly
Male Hairy Dragonfly
Male Hairy Dragonfly
Male Hairy Dragonfly
Male Hairy Dragonfly

June Gets Under Way

June has started with some wonderful weather and some wonderful dragon & damsel activity. Wednesday I paid a quick visit to Durley Mill in search of Banded Demoiselles

Male Banded Demoiselle
Male Banded Demoiselle
Female Banded Demoiselle
Female Banded Demoiselle

On Friday I decided to check out a few New Forest locations, beginning at Testwood Lakes hoping to find Scarce Chasers which had recently been spotted there. No luck and no sightings of any dragons, but there were plenty of Common Blue damsels and Banded Demoiselles

Common Blue Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly

From there I visited my favourite pond to observe Large Reds, Azures, Broad-bodied Chasers, Four-spotted Chasers, Keeled Skimmers, Downy Emeralds and my first sighting this year of a Large Red-eyed Damsel

Large Red-eyed Damselfly
Large Red-eyed Damselfly
Downy Emerald In Flight
Downy Emerald In Flight

Onwards to Latchmore Brook, my first visit this year, hoping to find some Scarce Blue-tails. None to be found but among the usual Large Reds, Azures, Broad-bodied Chasers and Four-spotted Chasers there were plenty of Beautiful Demoiselles taking the attention away from the tourists.

Mating Pair of Azure Damselflies
Pair of Azure Damselflies
Female Beautiful Demoiselle
Female Beautiful Demoiselle

On Friday I visited Bentley Wood, mainly to look for the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterflies, but was elated to finally locate the two ponds where there was plenty of activity from Large Reds, Azures, Broad-bodied Chasers, Four-spotted Chasers and the largest population of Downy Emeralds I’ve encountered yet

Four-spotted Chaser
Four-spotted Chaser
Four-spotted Chaser Close-up
Four-spotted Chaser Close-up

Saturday was spent in the company of my partner, Sue, and a fellow enthusiast and proprietor of New Forest Dragonflies website, Doug Overton. We called in at Holmsley on the way to Silver Stream, where we encountered dozens of fresh Keeled Skimmers along with adults of both sexes and our first Southern Damselflies of the season among the usual suspects.Ober Water.

Male Keeled Skimmer
Male Keeled Skimmer
Female Keeled Skimmer
Female Keeled Skimmer
Female Beautiful Demoiselle
Female Beautiful Demoiselle

Onwards to Ober Water with our main objective being the first White-legged Damselflies of the season along with a few Southern Damselflies.

Mating Pair of Southern Damselflies
Pair of Southern Damselflies
White-legged Damselfly
White-legged Damselfly
White-legged Damselfly
White-legged Damselfly
Teneral White-legged Damselfly
Teneral White-legged Damselfly
Teneral Male Keeled Skimmer
Teneral Male Keeled Skimmer

On the way back we stopped briefly at Linford Bottom to witness a few Broad-bodied’s and the first Emperor we’d encountered that day.

A fabulous day to end a fabulous week.

Safari

On Sunday 30th we decided to pay a visit to our favourite pond to see what we could find and, although not as prolific as the previous Sunday, there was still plenty of activity to observe. Large Red Damsels, Azures, several Four-spotted Chaser, Broad-bodied Chasers, a female Keeled Skimmer and a couple of Downy Emeralds providied entertainment and photo opportunities.

Four-spotted Chaser
Four-spotted Chaser
Male Broad-bodied Chaser
Male Broad-bodied Chaser

We decided to move on in search of the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, but to no avail. Plenty of Normal Pearl Bordered’s to be found at another site and some welcome dragonflies to keep us occupied including a female Keeled Skimmer, and male & female Broad-bodied Chasers.

Female Keeled Skimmer
Female Keeled Skimmer
Male Broad-bodied Chaser
Male Broad-bodied Chaser
Female Broad-bodied Chaser
Female Broad-bodied Chaser

From there we decided it was worthwhile to pay a visit to Crockford Bottom as we were in the area and highlights included more Broad-bodied Chasers, Beautiful Demoiselles, a few Large Red Damselflies, Azures and a teneral female Keeled Skimmer.

Southern Damselfly
Female Blue-form Azure Damselfly
Teneral Female Keeled Skimmer
Teneral Female Keeled Skimmer
Male Beautiful Demoiselle
Male Beautiful Demoiselle

So plenty of interest despite the disappointments and all in all a good day.

Welcome To The Hampshire Dragonflies Blog

Hi and welcome to the new blog feature for Hampshire Dragonflies. Here you will find the latest sightings and photographs of Odonata in Hampshire and The New Forest.

Freshly Emerged Large Red Damselfly
Freshly Emerged Large Red Damselfly

So far the season has taken a while to establish itself with a rather cool May following a reasonable April. My own personal sightings were of freshly emerged Large Reds on the 22nd April followed by increased populations of mature individuals especially around the small pond at Hatchet Moor.

Large Red Damselfly Close Up
Large Red Damselfly Close Up

This was followed by my first sighting of a fresh Broad-bodied Chaser near King’s Hat and my first ever Downy Emerald – again freshly moulted – at Broomy Pond.

Teneral Male Broad Bodied Chaser
Teneral Male Broad Bodied Chaser
Freshly Emerged Downy Emerald
Freshly Emerged Downy Emerald

During May sightings improved – albeit slowly – with Large Reds abundant. increased populations of Azures and reasonable numbers of Blue Tails at various sites including Romsey Water Meadows, Titchfield Haven and Pennington.

Azure Damselfly Mating Wheel
Azure Damselfly Mating Wheel
Immature Female Blue-tailed Damselfly
Immature Female Blue-tailed Damselfly

However it wasn’t until Sunday 23rd that things really started happening with fabulous activity from Broad-bodied’s, Four Spotted’s, a lone Keeled Skimmer and yet More Downy Emeralds.

Male Broad-bodied Chaser
Male Broad-bodied Chaser
Broad-bodied Chaser
Broad-bodied Chaser
Keeled Skimmer
Keeled Skimmer

Yesterday (26th) I witnessed my first Emperor at Titchfield Haven followed by my first proper sightings of Male & Female Hairy Dragonflies – a species I have been hunting for the last month in the hope of getting a few photographs. I’m glad to say I achieved my goal which was made considerably easier by finding the individuals in question perched among the pondside vegetation. Certainly a day and opportunity I won’t forget.

Fresh Emperor Dragonfly
Fresh Emperor Dragonfly
Male Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense)
Male Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense)
Female Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense)
Female Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense)
Freshly Emerged Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense)
Freshly Emerged Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)

As the summer evolves I will be out & about as much as possible and posting my findings here.

Here’s to a good season!