Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Drought Continues . . .

Since my fortuitous encounter with a Southern Hawker on Tuesday it's been business as usual in the valley, one visit to Thornley Woods Pond and two to Far Pasture have resulted in Dragonfly numbers (of species I might normally expect to see this time of year) resembling an Australian Cricket Team scorecard :

Southern Hawker     3
Com. Hawker          0
Mig. Hawker            0
Com. Darter             8
Ruddy Darter           0
Azure damsel           0
L Red damsel           0
Com. Blue damsel   0
Blue-tailed damsel   0
Emerald damsel       0

The lack of damselflies is baffling, its getting late in the season for them but in sunny conditions I would still expected to see decent numbers on the ponds but not even one recorded in three site visits.
Of the Common Darters, a single was the only dragon present in over an hour at TW Pond late morning, and just 3 and 4 on consecutive visits to Far Pasture, including this one doing the 'obelisk' on Saturday.

Male common darter pointing his abdomen directly at the sun (I checked) in an attempt to cool down by
reducing surface area in direct sunlight.
 I was also greeted with this sight at Far Pasture on Saturday where some bright spark has climbed through the hide window and snapped all the stalks of vegetation in front of the 'kingfisher perches'  so they can get a clear photo. I know many photographers who are good folk but I just don't know what gives some others the idea that its ok to selfishly take matters into their own hands and abuse a nature reserve in this way. Though the tossers who planted a  'No Fishing' sign in front of the hide a few years back so they could take a highly unoriginal photo take some beating.

No excuse for this wanton vandalism just for a photograph. It might not seem much but when left alone
the vegetation makes good cover and perching for a variety of small wildlife and when the
darters are out in force in the coming weeks the gaps between the reeds is prime ovipositing habitat, . . . not any more.

To be honest they way some folk go on you'd think the kingfisher is the only creature of any importance here, it's certainly the only thing enquired about when someone comes in the hide, well believe it or not folks, not everyone is bothered about it, nice to see, but not the be all and end all.
It's a nature reserve, for a good variety of wildlife, not an outdoor photographic studio.
Ok, rant over.

Saturday's visit to FP at least afforded more views of a couple of Southern Hawkers by the trees at the sawmill gate :

Shame this hawker was behind a fence but at least Sprog1 was able to view it well from the pathside

Rather than use wirecutters on the fence I moved around to get a better angle
for my best photo of this immature male Southern Hawker  

A second male Southern Hawker (this one in fully mature colours) alighted far above us in the trees
and I was just able to get a clear shot against the sky 

From a different angle a poor photo but shows the
shimmering wings of the same dragonfly in the strong sunlight

But that's the sum total of excitement in what (numbers-wise) is fast becoming the worst dragonfly summer since I began keeping this blog 5 years ago. I've looked back at previous years though and often my first sighting of ruddy darter is mid-August so time yet, and small numbers of common darter isn't that unusual by early August, though I would expect the first Migrant Hawkers to be around by now. The lack of damsels is a worry though, they should still be around through most of August and occasionally into early September.
Let's see what next week brings.


  1. It might be worth getting the ringers to paint every Kingfisher they catch brown.

  2. Why dont they just move the perches!

    Your Dragon counts are like my bird counts Alan, all going down over recent years

  3. I'm probably just looking for something else to moan about while I'm feeling sorry for myself.