Tuesday, 16 July 2019

New Forest and Dragonflies

On Saturday, we had a trip down to the New Forest, with a stop off at Longham Lakes.
A couple of weeks ago, there was a Scarlet Darter at Longham, which seems to be favoured for this species as there have been some reports here in the recent past. Unfortunately it wasn't seen the next day-we might have tried, but the M27 was closed all weekend apparently which put us off. Pity as apart from a large number of the scarce but frequent red Veined Darter, several Vagrant Emperors were also seen. having failed at Donna Nook it wasn't good news.
Earlier last week, the Emperors were reported again, and also apparently there were some Lesser Emperors around. We often visit the New Forest at this time of year so it was worth combining the two sites.
Had some traffic issues on the way down and I decided to come off at the end of the M27 and bypass the very slow A31. After driving through Fritham, to the north of the A31 we were approaching High Corner Inn and decided to pull over by a small copse for a break. Within a minute or so we had a Tree Pipit and a pair of Dartford Warblers, calling Curlew to the north of the road and a fine male Stonechat. The first of many Silver Studded Blues was found, though it was rather cool and breezy at the time, and Colin had a large dragonfly go past.
Nearby we also stopped briefly near Moyles Court School to check out the Dockers Water stream, which looked interesting but it failed to produce anything apart from a few blue damsels.
Getting to Longham was a bit of a pain as traffic was bad and the roadworks where we park really held us up. By this time, the sun had largely gone in, though it remained warm. This didn't seem to cause many problems, though the larger dragonflies remained elusive.
Walking down to the south end of the lakes, we encountered a number of Ruddy Darters and several Red Veined. This was rather nice as I hadn't seen one for a long time-in fact my only photos are on slide film taken in the early 90's.

They were very skittish and I only managed to get a few shots of one of them. Searching the damp hollows at the south end produced a lot of Common Blue and Azure Damsels, Banded Demoiselles and more White Legged Damsels than I've ever seen before. Black tailed Skimmers and one or two Broad Bodied Chasers were present around the reedy pond with one (ordinary) Emperor. We were told that the other Emperors were only likely to be seen patrolling the large lake in sunny conditions.
Most of the expected butterflies were seen-Comma, Peacock, Painted Lady, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Small Heath and a few Common Blues, Brown Argus and Small Copper. On the way back Colin found a very mature Scarce Chaser, a nice bonus.

Traffic remained a problem and it was a rather slow journey to our final destinations of Crockford Bridge and Beaulieu Heat/Hatchett Pond. However the sun was now starting to come out, but so was the wind.
By far the commonest species at Crockford was, as usual Southern Damselfly, though the numbers were much smaller than in some earlier visits. Recent management work in scrub and vegetation removal might have had some effect. Small Red Damselflies were also seen frequently, as were Beautiful Demoiselles.

Keeled Skimmers are always nice to see of course but were very active and never settled. The same with Broad Bodied Chasers and the superb Golden Ringed Dragonfly-at least two were patrolling the stream but never stopped. Just about the only thing that did was the female Emperor laying eggs. Lots of Silver Studded Blues of course, plus one or two Dark Green Fritillaries.

Bill Last was also present on one of his moth and botanising weekends so we had a chat and exchanged notes. I had hoped that he had locations for the Scarce Blue Tailed Damselfly that always seems to elude us here but he hadn't seen any for many years. so in the end we decide to try the west end of Hatchett Pond, but walked down from Beaulieu Heath, a much easier route.
Graylings were seen, but did their best to avoid the camera as usual. Half hour round the seeps and puddles at the ford failed to produce the Scarce Blue Tails again, and the only Blue Tail (a female) was seen near the car park. Apart from this. it was very much the same selection of species as at Crockford.
Despite the failures (and why didn't we find any Large Red Damsels?- I also missed Brown and possibly Southern Hawker as well) we ended up with 17 dragonfly species for the day, and also 17 species of Butterfly.

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