This was really a trip to Burnham Beeches intended for some landscape photography of autumnal colours. It was fortunate that, having arranged to meet a friend there, the weather was more or less as forecast and was dry with occasional glimpses of sunshine. Not really expecting to see anything, I nonetheless packed my 100-400 lens in case I spotted any Odos that had survived the recent mild frosts.
We arrived at 10:00 AM and made our way via Upper Pond and Middle Pond. I drew a blank at the former but almost immediately disturbed a mosaic hawker (unidentified) when I approached Middle Pond. Its presence, albeit fleeting, was something of a pleasant surprise. Shortly, I was really happy as I disturbed a male Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) that had been warming itself perched on some sunny fallen autumn leaves. It was still early and cool, though, and activity was low so I left them to warm up to operating temperature while we investigated the autumn colours.
I returned to Middle Pond at midday where activity still looked subdued – until the sun emerged. I counted at least 10 Common Darters including three tandem pairs ovipositing. I was happy enough with that for a late season day but really wondered about the hawker. I spent an hour watching the darters and was about to call it a day when a mosaic hawker flew by me. She soon alighted on a fallen tree trunk in the water and began ovipositing right in front of me. This behaviour was enough to suggest that she was a Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) and indeed, she was.
What an unexpected treat to witness the continuation of two species so late in the year. 🙂
- Aeshna cyanea (Southern Hawker)
- Sympetrum striolatum (Common Darter)