Thursday, 6 September 2012

Unchartered Territory . . .

In all the time I've been watching dragonfly behaviour in Thornley Woods pond I've never made a September visit before, so a trek up there yesterday was a bit of unchartered territory for the DragonHunter.

But there was a lot of activity to make it worth my while, with at least 4 possibly 5 male Southern Hawkers in the vicinity, resulting in many territorial squabbles sometimes involving a three-way tussle. One darker individual, presumably an older male ripening with age, took quite a few beatings at the hands of his younger rivals.
Their activity was frenetic, non-stop searching of the grasses and rough vegetation for females, though unlucky for them all, none seemed to be present, which was also unlucky for me as not once did I get the chance to photograph any of the hawkers except in flight. And here are the best of a bad bunch . . .

Told you they were bad
You should have seen the sixty-odd I binned!

More surprising for me was when I arrived on site around 1pm there were half a dozen Common Darters present including two ovipositing pairs in tandem. Surprising because it's the first time I've ever seen the species here. They too got involved in numerous squabbles with the bigger hawkers, often seeing them off.
Also still present were a couple of damsels, a large red male and an azure male, possibly the last of the season.
Common Darter
One of six seen here for the first time today. 
Azure damsel
Very late in the season for these now
Large Red damsel
Another extremely late individual, poor photo but had to
include him as he may be the last of the year
And one that was invited to supper by the spider
but didn't realise he WAS the supper

Some interesting avian activity too, with 5 very vocal buzzards calling all around me for a good long while before they came into view above the pond clearing. An assorted tit flock made its way around the clearing too, led by the tick-ticking of the long-tails, always worth trying to search through them at this time of year as anything could gang up with them, a case in point being my good mate Steve had 2 spotted flycatchers in a flock just over the road in Paddock Hill wood last week.
No such luck for me but I did manage to pin down a Willow Warbler, a Treecreeper and a little brown warbler-like job I couldn't identify.

More dragonfly activity as a single male Southern Hawker was patrolling a relatively new pond by the track. It's always been no more than a muddy shallow but all the rain this year has left it thriving, each time I've passed there have been a few large red damsels but this is the first time I've seen a dragon on patrol, so one to keep an eye on in the future.

A new pond to keep an eye on
Will have to think of a name for it

I did at last come across a female Southern Hawker, ironically well away from water in Paddock Hill Wood, where it was busy foraging, so unfortunately wasn't in the mood to pose for photographs either. Not a great session for photos then, but most interesting all the same.                    

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