Saturday, 16 May 2015

Dragonflies Exist!

The last month or so has been very frustrating for the odontophile, the rather cool April seemed to hold things back, and every weekend turned out dull, cool or wet and as a result I have not seen any. Reports from various parts of the country as well as local sites like Amwell suggested that I have been very unlucky with the weather. This weekend looked to be very promising, but with Colin unavailable on Sunday, it seemed like Saturday afternoon would be the best bet, sunny and warm. The Friday report of a brief sighting of the Titchfield Greater Yellowlegs was ignored-after all it has never turned up two days on the trot.
We called in at Broom Pits first thing, but the long staying Temminck's Stint had gone overnight so we continued on to Santon Downham in the brecks. Willow Tits and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers are still holding on here based  on chatting to locals while searching for Goshawks a while back. A stroll along the river failed to produce either-not unexpected really as they can be hard to find. Garden Warblers and Blackcaps were very vocal, and a pair of Nuthatches was nice to see. We continued up to one of the forest clearings where we had seen Tree Pipits a few years ago, but the conifers had grown considerably and there was little to see. The news from Titchfield that the Yellowlegs was showing from one of the hides did not go down well either.
We decided to carry on with our plan and went to Weeting next. One of the Stone Curlews was running around the ridge from the West Hide but remained very distant. Plenty of Lapwing chicks for the Rooks and Jackdaws to harass, and Skylarks and Linnets were plentiful. Outside the hide, a Long Tailed Tit nest close to the path provided excellent views of the adults bringing in food. Above them, feeding in the canopy of the conifers, two or three Firecrests were a nice bonus.

There was no sign of the Spotted Flycatchers that nest here so we carried on to the Forest Trail over the road. Tree Pipit and Woodlarks were the targets, though one of the locals suggested it might be rather tough. Not done this bit before so it was a bit of a novelty. Orange Tips, Green Veined Whites and Holly Blues feeding among the bright Yellow Gorse and Broom was promising, now that the sun was shining and heating up. Saw one Bullfinch, a Mistle Thrush, lots of Whitethroats Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers but none of the special birds. With all the Gorse I thought a Stonechat would do the decent thing and pop up and perch. Turned out that doing the entire trail takes several hours, and we only managed to do a portion of it. Still, back on the reserve, the Spotted Flycatchers put in an appearance for us.
We finished the day at Lakenheath. With it being nice and warm, we hoped to see a lot, but the wind that always seems to be present here was a bit off putting. Still ten minutes in, and with the poplars providing some shelter I picked up many Blue Tailed, Large Red and Azure damselflies. One male Hairy Dragonfly was patrolling a clearing and several Four Spotted Chasers including a very nice fresh individual were found.

The Hobbys were the stars of the reserve as usual, and I managed to produce a huge number of out of focus images fit for the bin as well as some rather nice ones. Bitterns booming, bearded Tits pinging and Cuckoos cuckooing and bubbling added to the atmosphere.

 No sign of Cranes this time, and the Little Bittern reported first thing did not appear all day. Sitting at the west end, I counted 14 Hobbys among the huge number of Swifts feeding over the reeds, with a good five or more seen on our way up. A very inquisitive Stoat enlivened the return journey as did the close pair of Marsh Harriers, woodpeckers and many more Hobby encounters.

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