Sunday, 28 August 2016

Going for Gold

In this Olympic summer I've had a few tries for a gold of my own, Golden-ringed Dragonfly that is,  but sadly to no avail.

At Pow Hill on the 10th the weather wasn't too kind but at least during the bouts of  sunshine I got my first Moorland Hawkers of the year; first a male hawking under trees by the bog pools, then a female doing likewise beside the car park, which we watched for some time but wouldn't land anywhere for a photo.
Star of the day here was a common Lizard which scuttled across a boardwalk ahead of us, and obligingly stopped halfway to give the kids (and my better half) a decent view of their first ever lizard in this country, sadly my camera was still packed away at this point.
But I was also pleased to see one of my favourite 'monster bugs' in the form of a Giant Tachinid fly, which happily did stick around for a few photos :

What's that coming over the hill ? Is it a monster ?

Is it a monster ? Well no, it's a Giant Tachinid Fly (Tachina grossa)

Actually no it IS a monster, a brute of a fly at around 2cms it's the size of a queen bumble bee,
and plug ugly to go with it. 

The same day we drove in to Blanchland where again I hoped to find a Golden-ringed, but the rain put a stop to that and dramatically cut short our visit.
We returned on the 21st (a better day altogether) and walked along the river to the Baybridge car park and picnic area, which has seen regular sightings of my target over the last few years, but possibly a bit late in the season now, despite good sunshine and a thorough search of the area, not a dragonfly of any description to be found. Still, now I know how easy it is to get there I'm sure we'll try again next year.

Finally just yesterday (26th) we visited Hamsterley Forest so the kids could try out the new 'Viking adventure trail' and I would hopefully get along to the Grove area which by all accounts is a hotspot for Golden-rings. Alas my luck was out, the forest drive is closed at the moment and it wasn't a good idea to take the kids away from their adventure play to go on a long walk looking for dragonflies. It may well be too late in the season anyway, but again, now we know how easy it is to get there, (and the kids really liked the adventure trail) an earlier visit is on the agenda for next year.
A female Moorland Hawker entertained me for a while along the roadside trees, and four common darters were the only other dragons to show.
A good afternoon out all the same, but I can't help feeling we should have done it first week of the hols. At the moment I feel like the bloke who finishes fourth in an Olympic final. :-/



  1. My one and only Golden-ringed was in the Baybridge picnic area a number of years back but ironically it was the missus that spotted it ! "What's this on here ?" came the cry. There was a stunning male hanging in amongst the gorse bushes. WOW. Tried a few times since there & other locations but never seen another Alan.

    1. I remember that John, and I've heard of 3 or 4 sightings there since so it's certainly a possibility. Always worth checking if you're in the area.

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  3. Interesting to hear about them relatively close to home. I saw them last year in the Highlands and south Cumbria, incredible insects.

    1. My only local sighting to date was at Pow Hill a few years back. Tried there every summer since with no luck but have to combine it with a family day out so can never have a good search. They can be found in many areas around the Durham Moors but as a none driver I hardly get the chance to seek them out. Heard of many sightings this year which just makes me more determined to get one next year. Watch this space . . . ;-)