Sunday, 10 July 2011

Secrets of the Dark Forest

Actually Thornley Woods pond, or as I call it The Dogging Pond (nothing pervy, just that everybody walking through the woods seems to let their dog rampage through it), in the hope of seeing emerging Southern Hawkers. Over the last few years I’ve recorded the entire life cycle of this species here, and only a small pond it’s definitely the best place to get up close and personal with them. I‘d been lucky enough to find emerging hawkers the last two years, and with quite a few individuals already reported on the wing I thought I’d try my luck.

The first thing I notice is the water resembles thick tea, a sure sign that some local pond life has released his mutt to damage and terrorise the proper pond life (actually that comparison is a bit unkind to the life in the pond).

Thornley Woods Pond
about half the size of a tennis court
Only a single stickleback is recognisable through the gloom, so I sit on the pond-side bench, don my trusty 8x42s and scan for emergences. I count eleven exuviae (the exo-skeletal remains of southern hawker been and gone) clinging to reeds and grasses in the pond margins mainly far side, but alas no fresh dragonflies to photograph.

Exuvia - 1 of 11

Exuvia - 2 of 11
both Southern Hawker Dragonfly
The only other sign of dragonfly presence is this hawker-sized half wing I noticed floating in the pond, one can only speculate as to what happened to the rest of the insect.

Around 30 Azure blue damsels are present, and 8 or so Large Reds, but that’s about all.
A tandem of Large Red Damsels

I’ll come back again in a couple of weeks when the adults have reached maturity and return to the pond for mating and egg-laying, usually an entertaining session if past years are anything to go by. Meantime here is a picture I took last year of an emerging adult from this same pond.
Emerging Southern Hawker 2010
probably a female judging by the thickness of the base of the abdomen.
Males are more pinched in.

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