Thursday, 26 June 2014


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. 


Marc Heath said...

Great report and shots Phil. Those Emeralds are not easy to capture in flight. You did well.

Phil said...

Thanks for your comment, although I feel lately that blogger doesn't seem to reproduce the photos too well.

Frank said...

Phil. An interesting and colourful reprise of your outing to Old Lodge.

I'm still waiting to find my first BE this year.

Phil said...

Thanks for your comment. When you find it, I hope you have more time to photograph it and enjoy it.

Dział Przyrody MŚO said...

Well done, Phil! Superb photos!
Greetings from Poland

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Four really good species of Odonata there . We searched for Sm. Red Damselfly without any luck last Saturday there .
Brillant Emerald on the wing is a great capture .
Mind you , while you were 'heads down' , Eddie could have been overhead , over Old Lodge 3pm.
What is it with you and dogs ?

Alan Pavey said...

Sounds like a great trip Phil from Redstarts to Small Reds not too mention S. T. Eagles!!

Phil said...

Dzial Przyrody MSO
Thanks for your comment!

Phil said...

Thanks Fred. I was pleased about the Brilliant Emerald especially.
I seem to be the same with dogs as I am Scottish midges, a flipping magnet!

Phil said...

Thanks, it was a really nice trip. Tempted to return again next week if I can.

Warren Baker said...

Bah!! I spent 3 hours looking for that Eagle and failed miserably!

Well done to you though phil :-) Hopefully the Eagle will carry off a few pesky Dogs!

Phil said...

Carrying off their owners would be more to the point!

Dan Tallman said...

Here is a Four-spotted Chaser (Skimmer) from Minnesota!

Phil said...

Thanks for your visit and comment. Unfortunately the link doesn't work though!

Dan Tallman said...

Can you get to my blog at all?

Phil said...

Yes Dan called in today, just couldn't access the link.

Dan Tallman said...

Thanks for being patient trying to find my blog. This summer I have had two odes in common with "you-all" (as we say in the southern USA)—the Four-spotted Chaser and a Scarce Emerald Damselfly.

Phil said...

Ironically two of my favourite species. I have left a comment on your recent post relating to Scarce Emerald.

Dan Tallman said...

One of the curious differences between Britain and North America is how much popular watching dragonflies is there in Europe. In fact, I have NEVER accidentally come upon another enthusiast looking for odes here in the Untied States.

Noushka said...

Great catches!
Cordulegaster boltonii is always a thrill to photograph!
I love the L. quadrimacula pic, quite an angle there!!
Well done!

Phil said...

Thanks very much for your visit and comment.
I agree, the Golden-ringed is great to photograph, but it gave me one chance only on this occasion. As did the Four Spotted!