Monday, 3 September 2012

As Summer Fizzles out . . .

Last week of the school summer holidays provided few proper dragonhunting opportunities, though quite a few hawkers seen but no chances to get up close or take even a low quality photograph.
The last few days of August brought an afternoon with the kids at the Strawberry Castle adventure play area at Gibside, which provided shelter from the blustery wind in otherwise decent sunshine, and three or four Migrant Hawkers gave me a bit of entertainment as they hawked the surrounding trees, with two or three Common Darters also in attendance.

Final day of August and a Scooter ride with the kids in the Derwent Walk Country Park also brought a few Migrant Hawkers around Clockburn Lake and Kite Hill, I watched one male hawking tirelessly for quite some time as we picnicked, hoping for him to settle but never did. And when the inevitable rain came I expected that to be it, so was pleasantly surprised to find another male still hawking around the hill uneffected, again watched for a while, then on the way back to the car park I spotted a southern Hawker (m) patrolling the river under the shelter of the bankside trees.

Yesterday just a few quick site visits in a bird-orientated day but by the river at Lockhaugh a couple of Migrant Hawkers and a Southern Hawker female, and at Far Pasture a male Southern Hawker patrolled the pond, with many Common Darters in attendance and a few Emerald damsels. I also provided Steve with his first Ruddy Darter of the year at the usual spot on the approach road.
But the only occasion I got my camera out was to snap this beauty of a Kingfisher close to the far Pasture hide.

Best shot I've ever got of our most colourful bird 

Steve later visited Burdon Moor where he got this exceptional shot of a mating pair of Southern Hawkers, and back again today where he tracked down the resident male Black Darter.

Southern Hawkers in the mating wheel
A difficult shot to get as this particular species usually performs
the mating ritual high in the treetops
(S. Fryer)  
Black Darter at Burdon Moor
Showing signs of age now, his amber spotting has
all but disappeared
(S. Fryer)

So we're into September, hope for some bright spells (as I remember last year the month was a total washout,) so I can track down a Gateshead Black Darter (or two) of my own, (my final target for the year,) as well as improve on my photos of Ruddy Darter and get some decent hawker shots.

Plenty still to do then, and with the sprogs back at school I might just be in with a chance . . . . .          

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