News broke late last week that a number of Southern Migrant (or Mediterranean) Hawkers in Essex on the 20th were in fact at Hadleigh Castle Country Park. Being in need of something to twitch, Colin and I made our way there yesterday.
Unfortunately we met a couple of guys in the car park who had maps of the site and knew exactly where to go, stating that the directions on the message boards were incomplete. As a result we had a very long walk along the estuary moorings, the wrong side of the railway line. Seeing that they had cocked up, a very pissed off Colin and I retraced our steps and eventually got onto the right path. (The dickheads turned up about an hour later, god knows where they ended up).
Nothing much happened for a while as it was rather cloudy-the temperature was ok though. I ended up in a ditch searching for Scarce Emeralds, and was just getting the camera set up when there was a shout from the main pool. Apparently a Southern Migrant had flown low over the grass and had dropped down into the reeds/sedge in front of us. It did not show again.
Meanwhile a number had gone off exploring-Colin returned with an interesting all blueish hawker on his camera screen so we went and had a look. Turned out to be a dull Migrant Hawker that the camera screen had rendered in such a way that the yellow triangle had gone a bit blue grey in the poor light.
I got my scope on it so everyone had a good look before going back to the main pool and ditch. Colin and I were directed to another pool full of Scarce Emeralds and we some time getting a few decent images-the light was still bad and there was a bit of a breeze at times.
I wandered off to start searching the nearby ditch when Colin gave a shout. A small, intensely blue Hawker had come down from the hillside trees and was flying over the pool. It did a couple of circuits, flying only a few feet from us before I lost it behind some Hawthorns. There was no trace of yellow on it and it could only be a Southern Migrant Hawker.
One thing is certain, it's flight over the water at or below head hight is very different to the normal high flying Migrant Hawker.
I managed to get everyone present over and told them the news. Not long after, and in quick succession an Emperor, a Migrant Hawker and the Southern Migrant Hawker appeared, but the latter did not linger. I believe most got pretty good views of it.
With noon approaching, and lacking food and drink we decided to make our way back to the car. There was a quick diversion to what was suspected briefly to be a female Southern Migrant (it was not) and a search of the long grass for another all blue Hawker that had been seen briefly, but we were too tired to do much more.
After refreshment and rest, we came home via Hockley Wood and Thrift Wood. Both are Heath Fritillary sites which Colin visits, but I have never been to them. Too late for the Heath's (barring a very late flying individual), all we really saw were high numbers of Gatekeepers, some Common Darters, and a few Southern and Brown Hawkers. Migrant Hawkers were out in both woods, and at Thrift, the pond held some Ruddy Darters, one of which I caught in flight.