I went down to the Ashdown Forest again today with Alan Roman. He hadn't been to the Old Lodge reserve before and I wanted to have another look at the dragons and damsels there. This wasn't a Short-toed Eagle trip because it hadn't been seen for a couple of days and had probably gone home. Or so we thought.
We walked along the top edge of the reserve and down towards the ponds and were well entertained by a family group of Stonechats, two juvenile Woodlarks, various Redstarts including juveniles and a superb male, Goldcrests, Gt Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, singing Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs and a couple of Blackbirds.
At the ponds things were a bit quiet, the sun had gone in a bit and not too much stirred.
The only dragons were a couple of Four Spotted Chasers who always chose to settle in awkward positions like the one above.
There were a few damselflies flitting around the water's edge in their usual aimless manner. They were mostly blues with a sprinkling of Large Reds here and there. But the one pictured above caught my eye as it flew weakly into the grass, I think it's an immature male Small Red. Red legs, lack of black on the abdomen, red eyes to follow when it matures hopefully.
We continued down towards the next pond (which had dried up since last week) and all of a sudden we stumbled across this Golden-ringed beauty. Or maybe it stumbled upon us as it paid us an awful lot of interest. A couple of times I thought it was going to land on me. How would I photograph it? Eventually it landed just behind me and allowed just this head on shot before moving on. A very welcome brief encounter.
There had been reports of a Brilliant Emerald dragonfly along the stream that meanders along the bottom of the valley. I have never seen one before and as we approached the stream a fellow enthusiast was pointing excitedly and beckoning us down to where the beast was showing well. Thirty seconds later we arrived and five seconds after that the dogs arrived. Two of them, one barked and growled aggressively at Alan in particular, while the second plunged headlong into the pool in the stream. Meanwhile the bare chested owner assured us that they were all bark and no teeth, so that's alright then. Needless to say the Brilliant Emerald disappeared. Thankfully they moved on and after about forty minutes the Emerald returned. I tried for a minute or two to get some in flight shots and then, said owner (who really couldn't give a s**t as usual) and said dogs returned. Straight into the pool again, all hell let loose and once more the Emerald was gone, not to be seen again.
We gave up and made our way back to the car park without canine or human incident and then drove the short distance down to Gills Lap car park where we'd heard that the eagle had landed again. Sure enough there it was, sitting nonchalantly in the top of a tree in the valley opposite. after a while it flew from its perch and soared upwards, circling all the while and eventually disappeared over the horizon. Alan was chuffed!
It's been a good week for me on the Odonata front. A couple of days ago I walked from my house up to the KWT Quarry Wood reserve for a look around and came across this White-legged damselfly. An immature female in the lactea phase according to my book. Another new tick for me.