With news filtering through a few days ago that a few Southern Migrant Hawkers had been seen at Oare Marshes in north Kent, I couldn't wait to get back there to see what has to be one of our most stunning dragonflies. I was dropped off yesterday (Wednesday) at 10.30am where I spent 6 hours having a good walk around the dykes along the paths to the East and West hides. The weather was to say the least, hot, with temperatures in the low to mid 30's making for some uncomfortable conditions. It wasn't long after my arrival that I found the first of 15 Southern Migrant Hawkers seen patrolling the ditches (11 East hide path and 4 West hide path). After having a good watch of them, I tried for a few shots but with the heat, they were constantly on the move and not really stopping to hover as I have seen them before. In 6 hours, I think one perched briefly for a few minutes and then it was too distant for any decent shots. I did manage a few flight shots but wasn't really happy with them. The heat certainly brought out the Darters with hundreds upon hundreds of common and Ruddy Darters seen. It was hard to walk a few steps without them flying up. Other bits noted included 1 Brown Hawker, c15 Black tailed Skimmer, 5 Emperor Dragonfly, 1 Four Spotted Chaser, 5 Small Red eyed Damselfly and a few Emerald Damselfly.
I returned again this morning but this time a little earlier, hoping that I might get a few perched Southern Migrant Hawkers before the heat of the day got to everyone. I arrived at 08:30am and spent a couple of hours again wandering around the paths to the East and West hides. I managed to see an excellent 19 Southern Migrant Hawkers, (14 East flood path and 5 West flood path) all males patrolling the same areas as the day before. Once again, it was already very hot and after watching one individual for a while, he started to fly in occasionally and land on a few reeds in the shade. Even the dragonflies were too hot I think! This gave me the chance to rattle off a few pleasing images of them and although not in the sun, it does I think show off their electric blue colours very well. With roughly the same species seen as the day before and the temperature in the early 30's, I called it a day around 11am and made my way back to the car where I very much looked forward to the air conditioning! It's great news that this dragonfly has appeared here again and hopefully, a small population with continue to breed here in the future. I'd dare say that when the weather cools again, I will find myself back there again enjoying this stunning dragonfly before their season is over.
Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis) - male