Thursday, 8 September 2016

Autumn arrives . . .

The stop-start Dragonhunting season slumped back into action yesterday with a double site visit to Thornley Woods Pond and Far Pasture.

At Thornley I was hoping to photograph ovipositing female Southern Hawkers, but a 45 minute stay produced one five minute visit from a male of the species which was unsuccessful in his attempts to seek out a female.
The only other dragons on show were half a dozen common darters consisting of four very territorial males and a tandem pair. I tried to get some flight shots as there was nowt better to do but they all came out too poor to even post.
Another poor show from my star Hawker site :-(

On to Far Pasture, with the primary target of Ruddy Darter (surely there has to be one by now) and secondary target of Migrant Hawker, notable by their absence on my last visit, but known as the Autumn Hawker in Ireland (a much better name I think), surely there has to be some by now.

Low numbers of Common Darters by the roadside, hardly surprising as they usually perch on the fences but the roadside margins are so overgrown there's hardly a space for them this year.
The Forbidden Pond at last held both bird and dragon. The half a dozen mallards flushed up as I approached, leaving 5 pairs of ovipositing common darters and a few single males in the heat and 'shine. It's a start anyway.
First Migrant Hawker here too, as a male slowly quartered the field in the distance.

A visit to the pond and my first thought when I arrived in the hide was the number of birds present, all gathered on the far island benefitting from the recent drainage work which has drastically lowered the water levels.
Even a pair of Mute swans had returned, and what was that sitting preening itself at the front of the far island? A colourful drake Mandarin. A just about annual sighting here but much more showy than last year's, my record photo of which was no more than a red beak sticking out from behind a clump of grass 50 yards away.

Spot the Mandarin
Believe it or not, some folk in the hide hadn't :-/

A few darters were darting about (what else?) in the sunshine, and at last a male Migrant Hawker made an appearance, giving decent views and perching occasionally, giving me the chance of (no more than) a blurry record shot.

Distant shot of Migrant Hawker (male)

A second male and a female briefly showed but still no Ruddy Darter.

Back outside another two Migrant males were seen in the fields, and despite checking every darter I encountered, the Ruddy proved elusive.

This female Common Darter was the most obliging individual of an otherwise photo-free session 

At least she seems to have something to smile about

Ruddys seem to be getting later each year here, it was early September last year when the only one turned up so I haven't given up hope altogether. The lack of dragons all season here is a bit worrying, though not surprising given the events and changes, plus the knock-on effect of the last two poor summers.
I'll keep trying :-/

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