In many ways I’m grateful for the seasons; knowing I’ll be hungry by the time April comes around rather than getting bored with the same old suspects. That said I still feel it’s a little too early to give up on dragonflies just yet.
September is my preferred time for spending a few hours at a pond, but the lack of rain has rendered most of my favourite watering holes barren. The criminally premature clearing of the meadows at Swanwick has robbed the hawkers of their chosen feeding grounds and they’ve all but disappeared; moved on to more fruitful sites.
Still a few possible locations to scout before hibernation kicks in, because, although I’m fanatical, I don’t see the point in searching relentlessly for the odd late straggler just to satisfy statistics. For me the enjoyment comes from the bounty of swarms on a warm and sunny day providing the option to indulge or sit back and enjoy.
Crockford, Pennington and Whitten Pond
Tuesday 9th September
A brief call in to Crockford on the way to Pennington just in case there were any hawker opportunities. Certainly nothing along the stream except for a late and lonely male Beautiful Demoiselle, still hanging on to his patch in hope. Still, a pleasure to see – and not the last I’d encounter this month.
On the way out I had a female Southern Hawker circle me at calf height, but she wasn’t prepared to settle.
At Pennington the cast was dominated by Common Darters and Migrant Hawkers, but at least there was a male Southern patrolling a small bay.
As I was approaching the exit I attempted to photograph a male Migrant perched in the bramble, but he rose and landed a short distance away to offer a far more pleasing opportunity.
I don’t know why I chose Whitten Pond as my next port of call. Maybe it was of my first ever Moorland Hawker sighting five years ago along the tree-line, or failing that a good chance to perhaps find a Southern or two perched in one of the many gorse bushes on the path.
The last time I visited this water body (some years’ back) there were a couple of Brown Hawkers in attendance along the feeder stream, and I was more than a little surprised to find a male here today. I was even more surprised to see him land in the bramble bush opposite.
Also patrolling the stream were a male Southern and male Migrant.
A pleasing end to the day.
Ramsdown and Troublefield
Wednesday 10th September
Wednesday was another day which started slow with Ramsdown only showing a few Common and Black Darters and a few tired Emerald Damselflies brightening up an otherwise empty pond. Even the clearing was quiet with no hawkers feeding and only the one perched in the gorse.
As I was about to check out the smaller ponds I received a call from Doug who asked if I fancied meeting up in his lunch hour. Sounded like a plan, so neglecting the ponds I took the short drive to meet Doug at Troublefield.
Unsurprisingly there were no perched hawkers along the fence, so we made our way to the far corner where there should at least be a few Southern to choose from. There were; four in total. Two choosing to patrol the gloomy channel and one providing some wonderful perched opportunities.
Cadnam Common, Milkham Bottom, Blashford and Ramsdown
Tuesday 16th September
I had called into Cadnam Common a week earlier to notice the water levels had increased sufficiently to allow at least some activity, but it wasn’t to be. Neither was it today. Not even a Common Darter to be seen.
Maybe I was a little too early, but surely by 11.30am there should have been sonething? No matter, maybe Milkham Bottom would produce some entertainment? It did initially by allowing me the chance to paddle across to the island for a foray.
Around the margins of the main pool were plenty of Common Darters, most in tandem. These were punctuated by the odd tired-looking Emerald Damselfly and a few Common Blues, but nothing larger.
At the boggy pool there were more of the same plus a few Black Darters and, pleasingly, a male Emperor.
I stayed here longer than I normally would, hoping for something more, but after the Emperor disappeared under the haze it was only those Common Darters in attendance.
I did a quick circuit around Blashford Lakes. Nothing flying at Ellingham Pound and only Common Darters and Common Blue damselflies decorating the paths, so I proceeded to Ramsdown where the pond finally produced a Southern Hawker for me to get my teeth into.