Friday, 25 September 2015

A Brief Reminder of Summer (though not this one)

It's been a fortnight since I had a good scout around, lack of sunshine and pessimism the main reasons, but today offered decent weather so I took a chance on finding some late-season dragons.

Thornley Woods Pond first stop, dunno why as it's been so poor this year, and apart from a common darter foraging along the path, no dragonflies at all showed on the pond, another mega-disappointment, though I'm wondering if maybe I should have tried mid-afternoon when the sun was at it's strongest rather than the cool late morning with shadows still covering half the pond.

Only the bird-life kept me interested for the half hour I gave it before moving on. A chiffchaff singing heartily, four mistle thrushes moving through the treetops, a couple of goldcrests flitting through and a GS Pecker bounding from tree to tree. A Speckled Wood was the only butterfly on view.

I walked down to Far Pasture hoping for better there, and a good start, as opposite the wood yard four Migrant Hawkers were on view, including a pair in the mating wheel, rising into the trees from the long grass.

Not much else along the road so I nipped into the hide after a chat with Roly in the car park. A good few tandem pairs of common darters was a welcome sight, maybe 20 individuals in all, and brief intermittent sightings of male migrant and southern hawkers but nothing remotely photographable.

Blue tit from the car park - significant only because it isn't sporting a ring.

Out of the hide again and the sun was stronger now in the early afternoon, though still a chill when the clouds came over. Nothing much along the road so I decided to have a look on the Forbidden Pond.
It's looking decent now with the late summer rains and a dozen or so common darters were present, mainly males but 3 or 4 ovipositing pairs, and two male southern hawkers skirmished briefly, the victor patrolling the pond unsuccessful in his search for a female.

Best of the forbidden Pond - a couple of the more photogenic darters
Photo opportunities were still in short supply, not helped by the fact I forgot to change from the super-macro setting on the camera (d'oh!)
Back on the road again I checked out the corner area for Ruddy Darter, and lo and behold, found one on the fence.

Ruddy Darter in the usual area

Had to take pics into the sun but some arty effects to be had 

Liked this one as the wind tipped his wings
Wasn't really expecting to see one so that was a bonus.

I spent the rest of the time trying  to get decent pics of common darters, but I don't know what it is about this year, all the pics are on the fence or on the road, getting one perched nicely on a tall plant stem with an uncluttered background has been nigh on impossible.

Male sitting on the fence

Sitting on the side of the Fence

A tandem couple - also sitting on the fence

Close-up of the coupling action

The female, looking a bit past her best
Back to the wood yard and the corner of the opposite field was again productive for migrant hawkers. A couple of males hawked the treeline and a splendid lemon yellow female gave lovely close views as she hunted close to the gate where I stood, alas too quick for photos and none of them even looked like settling anywhere.
Final sighting was in the woodyard itself, just beyond the gate a male southern hawker was foraging very successfully in the sunshine. I watched him for a while in hope he would settle, but again nothing doing, and that was me lot.
Good session for observing, exceeded my expectations, but not too good for photos.            


  1. Photography coming along nicely Alan. The tandem Darters very nice.

    1. Cheers John, I was lucky as they stayed put even when I was point blank, so I reeled off loads of pics and law of averages says some had to be decent :-)