I was looking forward to an August sitting by a pond, engaging with a hawker or two and generally watching the world go by – which I have done on a couple of occasions when the sun decided to shine.
However the past week of inclement weather has put pay to my plans for the moment. No point staring at a pond under cloudy skies; better to take a stroll and find some action elsewhere.
A walk around Town Common usually produces a hawker or two along the paths, and sure enough there were a few Brown Hawkers rising ahead of me.
Down in the shelter of the scrub were the expected Emerald and Small Red Damselflies and among the heather a Black Darter or two.
Across the road at Ramsdown I hoped for a female Moorland taking advantage of the gloom to oviposit, avoiding the attentions of patrolling males, but in this weather even the Common Darters were noticeably absent.
In the clearing at least there was an immature female Southern Hawker resting up in the gorse.
The Hill Pond was unsurprisingly quiet, a startling contrast to a week previously, however around the margins you could find a willing subject or two if you were prepared to hunt.
At my favourite pond the sun shone all to briefly to kick-start a little activity from the Common Darters – irresistible only in the absence of others.
Back at the clearing these all too brief but welcome late afternoon sunny spells produced a frenzy of feeding activity from the Brown Hawkers, teasingly gliding a meter or so from yours truly and never once landing in sight.
Low down in the heather a Golden-ringed provided the last opportunity of the day.
Finally a turn-around in the weather! On the first sunny day for a while I headed over to Town Common in the hope of finding a few heath specialists.
Taking the back path for a change my first welcome sighting of the day was the stunning Silver-studded Blue butterfly. There were a few chasing around the path margins in the cool morning sun.
My next sighting was as glorious as it was unexpected – a male Brown Hawker ‘hawking’ the corner thicket. No chance of a photo with this fellow, but a delight to watch as he took his morning feed.
Next was another unexpected individual – an immature female White-legged damselfly, the first I had seen here. They’re present on the Stour, Moors and Avon rivers which are close, so not entirely a rare sighting.
Despite the rains the ponds were very shallow; down to the bed in
places. A little too cool and early for over-water action so I searched
the heath for my next quarry, the always welcome Common Emerald.
I took a walk around the back paths to a favourite little pond which usually provides, and sure enough there was the unmistakable flutter of a teneral Black Darter.
At the next pond a teneral Common Darter rose and flew out of reach before I could ready the camera – the fourth new species this season. At another favourite spot I found another Black Darter, a male this time.
After a walk around the lower reaches of the site I stopped a while to watch the play of Silver-studded Blues and a lone female Scarce Chaser at a particularly fabulous bank of heather.
After this moment of mindfulness I decided to have one more look around the first pond, capturing a few more of those Common Emeralds before calling it a day.
Our delightful climate has delayed this year’s season,; a couple of pond emergence’s and the first wild sightings (as usual) down in Cornwall. I had to wait until my third foray before I struck lucky at Town Common today, with a mass emergence of at least fifty to keep me busy.
My previous two outings have concentrated on Town Common and Broomy Pond – usually good contenders and the first to yield results. Surprisingly the pond which usually shows first at Town Common took a back seat this time in favour of a more sheltered pond.
It’s always a pleasure to witness these first flutters, and the chance to reacquaint myself with the camera and my (lack of) stealth, clumsy to the point of embarrassment first thing in the season. Thankfully it didn’t take too long to readjust and I spent a good couple of hours within this small glade enjoying the (long overdue) sunshine.
With a good spell of prolonged warmth and calmer winds I should imagine we’ll see a few other species join them before the month is out.