With the Southern Migrant Hawker continuing to be seen in good numbers around the Cliffe area, I suppose it wasn't a surprise that they would eventually start to spread to other parts of the county. The past few years have seen me visiting Wat Tyler Country Park and Canvey Island in Essex to see this stunning species and this year, I did make another visit to Canvey Island this year where I managed to see c50 teneral Southern Migrant Hawkers making their maiden flights from the reedbeds. Other enthusiasts visited this site in the next few weeks and continued to see good numbers emerging and so it seemed that this year was going to be a bumper year, and this is most definitely how it has played out. Good numbers were seen all around the Cliffe area and having not seen the species in Kent, I made a few visits and thankfully, third time lucky, I managed to see and photograph a female Southern Migrant Hawker. I thought that this was probably going to be my last encounter with this species this year but during the past week or so, up to 3 have been seen at Sandwich Bay and up to 3 at Oare Marshes. With Oare being much nearer than Cliffe for me and the sun shining well today, I made a visit to the site arriving around 12:15pm where I made my way to the ditches on the west flood where they had been seen. It wasn't long until I was watching a stunning male Southern Migrant Hawker in flight passing by me only a metre or so away at times and showing off those superb blue colours. The next challenge was then to try to get a few images in flight which I spent a couple of hours trying and ended up with a few pleasing images. It only landed a couple of times but I made the most of the chance and rattled off a few more images showing off these dragonflies to their best. I then spent an hour walking around the ditches on the East and West flood and managed to see 6 Southern Migrant Hawker, all males and also spoke to a few other enthusiasts who had seen a mating pair in another area. Add to this, Four spotted Chasers, Black tailed Skimmers, Small Red eyed Damselflies, 1 Emperor Dragonfly, a few Emerald Damselfly, Blue tailed and Common Blue Damselflies, lots of Common and Ruddy Darters and c10 Migrant Hawker exuviae collected from the emergent vegetation, this reserve is an excellent site to see a good range of species of Odonata. Hopefully the Southern Migrant Hawker will continue to spread within the county and become well established at a number of new sites. The future looks bright, in fact, it looks electric blue!
Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis) male