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!