‘Twas A Season To Be Jolly (Part 2)

An early May sighting of the Golden-ringed promised a summer bounty of arguably our most stunning dragonfly but I didn’t encounter as many along Ober, Latchmore or Crockford this season.

Golden Ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) - male

Golden Ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) – male

My favourite day this season has to be my mid-Summer visit to Ashdown Forest for the magnificent Brilliant Emerald. Despite spending several hours glued to the same spot with little going on my patience was rewarded just as I was about to leave.

Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica) - male

Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica) – male

Such good fortune meant fate owed me a beating which killed my mojo for a short while, but thankfully a couple of trips to Kent kept the fires burning. The Kent Marshes gave us a good showing of the Scarce Emerald however the Southern Emerald failed to make an appearance this year.

Scarce Emerald Damselfly (Lestes dryas) - male

Scarce Emerald Damselfly (Lestes dryas) – male

Thankfully Marc Heath had found a thriving population of Willow Emerald on his doorstep which offered my best chance so far of witnessing this beautiful damsel in its element.

Willow Emerald (Chalcolestes viridis) - immature male

Willow Emerald (Chalcolestes viridis) – immature male

An added bonus to the day was my best chance of the season to capture the challenging Brown Hawker in-flight.

Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) - male

Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) – male

August means peak Hawker season with the Browns already in full swing, swiftly followed by the Moorland. A good year for the latter, especially locally where my first of the season was spotted at Ramsdown followed by several sightings at Cadnam Common.

Moorland Hawker (Aeshna juncea) - male

Moorland Hawker (Aeshna juncea) – male

These welcome appearances on the home patch didn’t prevent me from making my annual pilgrimage to The Mendips where they truly are a sight to behold.

Moorland Hawker (Aeshna juncea) - male

Moorland Hawker (Aeshna juncea) – male

We had to wait a little longer this season for the Southern Hawker to appear in abundance but when he did he certainly made an entrance and offered some excellent opportunities.

Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) - male

Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) – male

His delayed start meant he stayed around a little longer to keep those hardy Common Darters company with several sightings throughout October, the latter being seen as late as December, however I concentrated on his cousin, the vibrant and not so gregarious Ruddy.

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) - pair in-cop

Where Hawkers are concerned the Migrant usually has a calmer demeanour in company than the Southern but this season they appeared far more aggressive than usual, with several occurrences of uncharacteristic bullying.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - male in-flight

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) – male in-flight

The profusion of Migrants is a bitter-sweet time of year, offering some peaceful and fulfilling moments before the close of season.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - pair in-cop

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) – pair in-cop

Despite their supposed change of character this year they could still make you smile.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - pair in-cop

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) – pair in-cop

There was a noticeable chill in the air towards season’s end and I chose to end mine traditionally with the Southern Hawker, always a pleasure to spend a moment with. (Click on image for animation)


Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) – male in-flight

Seeking out the rare and wonderful species not encountered locally and concentrating on places with greater rewards and peaceful atmospheres has ensured a satisfying season. New areas to explore and revisiting local areas neglected this year will keep me busy in the season to come.

To round out the year here’s a short video from Aaron Cook of our encounter with an obliging Emperor back in July.

Here’s wishing you all a prolific 2017.

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