The Chase

Tuesday 2nd May

In true Bank Holiday fashion the weather showed improvement once the weekend was over, with Tuesday offering a prolonged session of sunshine with reasonably calm wind. Nevertheless I had to wait until the afternoon before the sun made an appearance, so I decided to begin at Troublefield.

Due to the unusual dry April these usually prolific meadows had yet to produce a decent plant growth, let alone any odonata. The Cuckoo Flower is fading fast and the Nettle is the only foliage showing significant growth. After a good search of both meadows I did eventually find a male Beautiful Demoiselle towards the end of my visit.

Ramsdown next and a more substantial search still failed to produce even a Large Red so I continued on to Town Common. A most welcome unbroken spell of sunshine at 1.30pm brought forth the Large Red with some even venturing over water for the first time this season.

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) - female
Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) – female

After I busied myself with these I noticed a fresh Four-spotted Chaser rise ahead of me, which I pursued and almost pinned down had it not been for a comically-placed hole which completely ruined my stealth. I didn’t get another chance as it flew out of sight behind a bush and despite spending a good half hour I couldn’t relocate my quarry.

This species rarely emerge singly so there had to be more and eventually I spotted another at the adjoining pond. At least I didn’t encounter any more holes in my pursuit and eventually was able to approach close enough to switch to the macro lens.

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) - immature male
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) – immature male

Thank you then Town Common for redeeming yourself and providing a worthy visit. Yes, it would’ve been nice to find a Broad-bodied Chaser, an Azure.or even a Hairy, but I’ve learned not to be greedy and am more than satisfied to find one decent opportunity in what is still early season.

Saturday 6th May

Still not ideal weather for dragonflies down here, and nowhere worthy of too many miles either, so we thought we’d pop into Swanwick to bag a Blue-tailed and see what else we could find. Warm enough, but windy and mostly cloud cover meant we should see something feeding among the scrubbery.

There were a couple of Blue-tailed playing over the dipping pond and a few more feeding along the margins with a couple of Azure for company. Those pesky Blue-tailed were not being co-operative and I’d forgotten how quickly they could disappear out of sight, but I managed to pin one down eventually.

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) - male
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) – male

We took a walk towards the lakes and spotted a Downy hopping between high perches before continuing to the dog pond where I was hoping to find a Broad-bodied Chaser or two, but by the time we arrived the weather had darkened.

Two more species added to the season’s list which I’m grateful for. I still need a day to really get stuck in. Hopefully this coming week will provide the right conditions for a mini bonanza.