Thursday 27th June
It’s been five years since I last visited Thursley, so I was well overdue for another visit.
On the first decent day for a while I left early hoping to grab a place in the car park. I needn’t have worried; the morning shift of dog walkers had done their rounds and the only others present were a Natural England work party.
Typical, however they do a fantastic job keeping Thursley enjoyable for all. Today they were replacing a section of boardwalk, meaning the first section was closed for the morning.
Not a problem. First I circled The Moat which was alive with morning feeders.
Beyond The Moat were Keeled Skimmer, Azure, Common Darter and a male Brilliant Emerald hunting low over the heath. Unfortunately the latter (my target for the day) disappeared around a gorse stand never to be seen again.
I took a walk up my favourite path and disturbed a few roosting Brown Hawkers. On the return trip an elderly lady was walking towards me, disturbing a roosting female Southern Hawker. Thankfully the latter circled briefly before returning to the same bush.
After allowing me to get in with the macro I searched the remaining bushes and found the glistening amber of Brown Hawker wings.
Perfectly camouflaged against the dead gorse I fully expected this immature male to fly off and out of reach, as is their instinct, but no – either he was asleep or my stealth was getting better.
Not the prettiest of backgrounds, but come on, any chance of a perched Brown Hawker is a golden opportunity. After this encounter I took a walk along the open section of boardwalk, spent a while observing a resident Emperor enjoying the sunshine and marveled at the wonderful dragonfly sculpture at the junction.
Further along were more surprises; a new boardwalk stretching out into the bog, new information boards, benches and resting areas and a new observation platform – all this in celebration of the dragonfly.
There were a few Hobby feeding on the few Four-spotted Chasers who braved the stiff breeze and I stopped several time to engage in conversation with other toggers (of which there were many) and helping other visitors inquiring about what they’ve seen.
Returning to the shade of The Moat I became acutely aware of how popular this place had become. The weather had certainly dragged out the paparazzi! I’ve never seen so many photographers in one place at the same time.
Along the shore the Downy were plentiful, frequently engaged in territorial battles.
Plenty of opportunities to allow a little pond-side sport, the problem was finding one positioned to reflect the sunlight.
It wasn’t until 3.30pm that I finally had another sighting of the Brilliant Emerald; this time patrolling a small shaded area, which was all but impossible for photography, and frequently driven off by the resident Downy – always a problem at this point in the season.
I stayed another hour in the hope this male would return and reluctantly made my way to the car after an enjoyable and productive day.