With the weather looking a little better today I made the 90 minute journey from east Kent to Thursley Common in Surrey. This is probably one, if not the best place to see a variety of dragonfly species and is considered by many to be the 'top' place in England. I arrived at 8.45am in nice sunshine where after having a drink and snack I walked on over to the moat to see if anything was flying. I was hoping to maybe see a Brilliant Emerald here but despite trying a few times during the day I did not see any. With the day still warming up I took a stroll around the area and walked along the boardwalks from the car park checking the pools as I went. Although it was not that warm still, there were plenty of Black Darters already sunning themselves on the warming wood and during the day I have never seen so many Black Darters, they seemed to be everywhere. This of course produced the camera out of the bag and it was soon into some serious action of these little darters.
Male Black Darter
They were very wary but crawling on my belly up to them gave me the chance to get a number of shots of this species. Its not the best background at all and I tried for some on the heather but they liked the boardwalk too much.
Male Black Darter
Female Black Darter
Also on the boardwalks were lots of Keeled Skimmer and they were also everywhere today, such a fantastic sight to see as the lots of Skimmers and Darters buzzing by. Also seen on my wanders were 2 Brown Hawkers, 2 Emperor Dragonfly, 1 Migrant Hawker, good numbers of Emerald Damselfly and Common Blue Damselfly and a few Four spotted Chaser.
Male Keeled Skimmer
Back at the car park for lunch I checked and area where I had seen Small Red Damselfly last year and sure enough, I managed to find c10 here allowing me to grab a few shots.
Female Small Red Damselfly
Male Small Red Damselfly
The clouds rolled in throughout the day which was a little frustrating but the sun was out enough to keep the dragonflies flying and me more than occupied. As mentioned in a previous post one of the main reasons for visiting today was to try and see a new dragonfly species, the Common (Moorland) Hawker. This species does not appear in Kent and Thursley is one of the nearest sites for me to see this species although they are not common here either. I walked up and down the boardwalks for ages throughout the day checking all the boggy pools for them in the hope one would fly in and give me the sight I wanted. I was thinking this was not going to be the day when as I walked down one of the boardwalks, I saw a couple looking at something in a boggy ditch. As I approached I could hear some wings buzzing and into view appeared a large Hawker. It landed again and started egg laying in the margins and at this point I was able to get the binoculars on to it and confirm it was a female Common Hawker egg laying. Other than its large size I was able to see the yellow costa on the leading edge to the wings which is a diagnostic feature of this species. In a bit of a panic I thought I had better get some sort of shot of it but I had the macro lens on, not what I wanted in this situation. With not a lot of time to spare I took a few distant efforts before she moved off over the grass and landed out of sight never to be seen again. As you can see by my hugely successful effort which has not a lot going for it except for the vital dragonfly evidence which clearly shows the yellow costa on the leading edge to the wings of the Common Hawker. It may not be the best shot but its priceless at the moment until I improve upon it next year I hope but will provide a very good memory to a super day at this stunning reserve.
Female Common Hawker Ovipositing