Sunday, 5 July 2015

Reborn on the 5th of July

It was a lot cooler than I'd hoped this morning when I set off for Thornley Woods Pond at 7am as my target was to find an emerging Southern Hawker. I should really have been out a lot earlier but I had a major problem in that I couldn't get me arse out of bed.

By the time I arrived the sun was out with full force, quickly warming the atmosphere, and the pond looks a lot better now it's covered in surface plants (so you can't see the strangling brown leaf mulch or old cans/bottles at the bottom of it).
But there's obviously been a bit more emergence, one exuvia near the front of the pond and a scan across the back revealed at least a couple more than last week.

One new exuvia in the grasses front of pond

Then an old acquaintance (doing a BTO survey) came along and we spent a while chatting (as you do). He revealed he'd had a Hobby up at Old Hollinside Manor a couple of weeks back, probably the first Gateshead sighting this year (and may be worth checking out at a later date), so it wasn't until after he was on his merry way that I actually ventured round the side of the pond to inspect what seems to be the main 'launchpad' area this year.
Another new exuvia spotted but this time when I got my bins on it, a very pale hawker dragonfly was hanging from it, gettin!

First sighting of an emerging Southern Hawker  
On closer inspection I could see it was a female (southern of course), with fully extended abdomen and perfectly formed outstretched wings, she'd obviously been out a couple of hours at least and was probably close to her maiden flight. I got a few photos and waited patiently but a good forty minutes later she was still motionless, hadn't even started 'revving up' by vibrating her wings rapidly pre-take-off.

Closer in and despite the pale look of the teneral hawker, the feature patterns and thick waist
easily identify a female southern hawker  

Not easy to get a good view never mind photograph in the thick emergent grasses

She's done well to find enough space to emerge without an obstruction.
It was 9am now and I noticed activity around the pond was starting to increase; chiffchaffs were gleaning the oak trees for breakfast, bees were starting to get busy buzzing about and the first damsels were starting to appear in the form of a few large reds flitting wearily about the rough areas of bramble.

The first of the damsels up on a lazy Sunday morning
I thought what the hell, I'll have a quick walk around the track to see if any immature hawkers were quartering the open woodland like last year. Obviously this was a mistake, I was gone less than ten minutes, didn't see a thing, and when I got back to the pond my newborn hawker had upped and went. Not a sign, I was gutted at missing her maiden flight and didn't have a clue where she was now.

Ah well, at least I got a newbie to photograph this year, missed out on the last couple. :-/


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