First stop was the Walled Garden Pond, overcast conditions meant nowt was flying and the only damsel on view was this emerald, first of the year :-)
|Shoddy photo but first Emerald damsel of the year|
Then as I reached the summit at the other side of the Hollow Walk I spied a hawker foraging the treeline and after a few passes confirmed a male Common Hawker, another year first and species number 3 for the day. But again, no chance of a photo.
The Lily Pond had a big count of Azure damsels, with the raft of lillies in the centre wick with tandem pairs. Emeralds were emerging, with every burst of sunshine a few tenerals made their first tentative flights out of the thick pond margin vegetation. Large Reds were showing in decent numbers too, but they were the only 3 species on show.
|Azure damsel (male) one of possibly a three-figure count today|
A good wait hoping for a 4-spot to show only resulted in a painful bite from a cleg-fly, which then went on a blood-fuelled frenzy as it tried to eat me alive and just wouldn't leave me alone. I've never uttered so many F-offs as I did in this short space of time, as the pest was like a one-fly swarm, taking advantage of every time I was distracted by landing on me somewhere else.
I really didn't want another bite so I eventually stopped to fight it off with my sunglasses, and after a Jedi-like battle of epic proportions, it succumbed as I twatted it to the ground with a backhand, and went against all my principles by dispatching it with my boot before it could regain its senses. Not proud of myself but it was a case of kill or be killed.
Back to the dragon-hunting, I decided to move on while the sun was away, and a lengthy walk produced nothing as I inspected a few minor sites which were either dried up or overgrown.
The Octagon Pond was next up, and here at least I got my sixth species, as it was populated by Common Blue damsels and precious little else, but at least they posed for the camera.
|Plenty of Common Blues at the Octagon Pond, seems they favour|
this pond and the Azures favour the smaller Lily Pond.
|The eyes have it|
|A nice smile for the camera|
|Then became a bit camera-shy|
Then a hawker zipped in, but unidentified from its single pass of the pond, though I got the impression it was a female from the thick-waisted abdomen, and a few minutes later it was back, briefly foraging the trees behind me, and was indeed a female, a common hawker. This was shortly followed by the male again on the other side of the pond..
Time running short now I started the long trek back, still a species short of my target, but on the downward slope of the Hollow Walk a flash of bright yellow crossed my path, and I knew immediately it was a Broad-bodied Chaser female, a species I'd never recorded at Gibside before. I relocated it hunting in the dene and with a bit of patience grabbed a few record shots.
|Broad-bodied Chaser - a Gibside first|
A return to the Walled Garden Pond (this time in sunshine) produced less than my first visit had (which now seemed a lifetime ago.)
So that was that; my target of 8 species was reached, with 2 year firsts in Emerald Damsel and Common Hawker, and best of all a site first with that cracking Broad-bodied Chaser. Enjoyable day out, though knackered walking in sunshine. (Cue for a song?)