Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Early Success

Today I'd arranged to go to Thornley Woodland Centre to take some pictures down, and thought I might have a look on the pond while I was there in case there was any sign of Hawker emergence. I was already weighed down with gear so didn't take my bins or XS-1, but packed my trusty old Kodak point and press which I used a couple of years ago with mixed results after the Stargate incident (when I fried the electronics in my Panasonic by dropping it in the pond).

At this time of year the pond looks more aesthetically pleasing as the surface is covered in duckweed but I was still surprised by the amount of lush emergent grasses now poking through; it covers almost half the pond now.

But lo and behold, I couldn't believe my luck when spotting (almost straight away) a hawker dragonfly in a patch of these grasses just three feet from the boardwalk. With body totally inflated and wings spread it had obviously been out a good while (it was 1.30pm now) and with a thinner 'waist' I deduced a male Southern Hawker, though the angle wasn't good for viewing with the grasses in the way.
I straight away regretted not packing the XS-1, but fired away with the Kodak and got some fairly poor record shots (it was also quite dull now as well, with the forecast rain on the way) :

First Hawker of 2016 - a male Southern

With wings spread it shouldn't be long before he takes flight

From this angle we also get a better look at the exuvia

I wasn't going to get any better shots so searched the grasses for any further signs of emergence. A single male Azure damsel and a tandem pair of Large Reds was all there was to see, so I checked the north end. I was sure I could see an exuvia in the distant grass (I had no bins remember) so moved around the margins and was delighted to find another hawker, this one more recently emerged, still pumping the wings up, but in a much more viewable position so was able to get a better shot.

The second hawker, another male me thinks looking at the appendages

Wings just about fully formed but with conditions cooling, might take a while to get away

I looked further round the margins but couldn't see any more and had to get on with my task so left them to it.

The rains came not much more than an hour later. I was safely back at home after lugging my bags home down the A694 (why didn't I learn to drive?) (Oh yes, I tried but almost killed myself that's why). I'm sure the first individual would have been away by then but can only hope the second one managed to make it's maiden flight before the heavy rain started and washed it off it's chosen stem, it's a precarious time the emergence, especially in our unpredictable climate.

I couldn't remember if this was my earliest sighting but looking back through my records I had a teneral Southern Hawker here on June 26th in 2014,and had spotted exuvia four days earlier on the 22nd. Should have gone prepared really :-/ 



  1. I can't think of anything more exciting than finding an emerging Dragon and having seen my first there at Thornley the memories came flooding back. I sat watching it, as i actually saw it climb out of the water, for over four hours but had to leave to pick up the missus from work. It was a bright but slightly chilly day, hence the long drawn out process but although i didn't experience watching that maiden flight i felt i had watched something magical. I still rue them chopping down all those trees there as that spot had a special feel about it. A hidden gem if you like. A shame you didn't have you other camera Alan but you got some decent record shots there.

    1. Yes John it is magical to watch especially if you're lucky enough to see from beginning to end. I try every year with mixed success, I was a bit miffed I couldn't spend more time there yesterday but next sunny morning I'll be up again with me XS-1 for sure.

  2. Nice shots Alan. I have had very few of anything at work recently but there is still loads of time so here's hoping. Hope to get to Kibblesworth tomorrow to see what's about.

    1. Cheers Ron, yeah it's early days yet. Gonna try to get to Kibblesworth next week if we get a good day, have to get there before the kids holidays start :-O