Wednesday 30th May
Let’s be honest – the weather on Wednesday was far from optimal. Unusually the BBC gave a better forecast than YR – light cloud and light winds. The latter was correct, but the clouds were often a darker grey.
Nevertheless instead of being stuck in front of the PC I decided to have a look anyway; a chance to wander off the beaten track a little.
I started at Town Common, taking a different route than usual to explore the SW section. A few more ponds to investigate in the future maybe, if I can drag myself away from the favourites.
One of these ponds is a recent addition and will need time to mature but will serve to be a prime breeding pond for Black Darter, Common Emerald and Small Red as the recent ponds across the bypass have proved to be.
Approaching the key area I had a sighting of one of the resident Peregrine, a display of Dartford Warbler and a couple of Smooth Snakes. Too cool or dull for the Sand Lizards, or too blind on my part.
None of the ponds had any activity over water whatsoever – even the hardy Four-spotted Chasers were noticeable by their absence. Just a few Azure, Common Emerald and Small Red within the heather.
There were the occasional Scarce Chaser laying low in the heath but not the crowd experienced on Monday. Respect to the Scarce; I thought the Four-spotted were hardier!
The damsels gave me more than enough to experiment with, the low light offering some interesting challenges, including finding the correct level of flash to reflect the metallic shimmer of the Emeralds.
A proper flash (and diffuser) would be better, the above examples a little harsh, however they show the immature gender differences well.
On the way out I encountered the historical sight of an old & grizzled chap with a huge leather bucket, a shovel and a huge iron stake. I nodded but didn’t receive an answer; maybe he was up to no good or maybe the space-time matrix experienced a glitch.
Over on Ramsdown I encountered a gravid female Adder sunbathing on a corrugated sheet who hadn’t heard or seen me coming and had another Smooth Snake sighting.
Another Scarce Chaser on the heath, a couple of Emerald and a Four-spotted Chaser (at last) near the hill pond. and plenty of those pesky flies hovering around yours truly, the living embodiment of Pigpen from Peanuts.
Continuing on to Troublefield I noticed the DWT crew were present but thankfully not in my meadow. The first surprise was the level of growth in a week; frequently chest-high and sopping wet, but immense fun!
Banded and Beautiful Demoiselles were present in good numbers and were keeping low and yet another Scarce Chaser, the first one I’ve seen here this Spring.
More Large Red and Azure but alas no White-legged; the grasses only offering up a swarm of micro-moths and something more sinister which avoided my liberal spraying of insect repellent to festoon my upper arm and shoulder with an array of bites.
Challenging and frugal, however a fine wander.