Monday, July 17, 2006

Thursley Heath Dragonfly Safari

Took the train yesterday from London Waterloo to Milford in Surrey and walked the few miles to Thursley National Nature Reserve with the intention of seeing the Brilliant Emerald dragonfly. This species has a disjunct distribution in the British Isles with populations only in a restricted area of the Scottish Highlands and the south-east of England. The acid heathland of Thursley, together with the bogs pools and surrounding birch, oak, pine woodland and other lakes is well known for its dragonfly diversity and the fine weekend weather made for a fantastic trip. I visited Hammer Pond, Forked Pond, Pudmore Pond, The Moat as well as some of the streams and bog pools in the area and found 21 species! Yet, with all this food source, I didn’t see a single Hobby.

Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo
Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens
Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa
White-legged Damselfly Platycnemis pennipes
Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula
Small Red Damselfly Ceriagrion tenellum
Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella
Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum
Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans
Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma najas
Small Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma viridulum
Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea
Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis
Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator
Downy Emerald Cordulia aena
Brilliant Emerald Somatochlora metallica
Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata
Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum
Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens
Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum
Black Darter Sympetrum danae

The area is pretty rich in other quality wildlife and when not observing dragons I found at least 11 Silver-washed Fritillaries, White Admiral, Silver-studded Blue, Grayling, Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, Tree Pipit, Crossbill and a couple of Green Sandpipers. The heathland is very dry at the moment and the local fire fighters were controlling areas of burning heather. One of the boardwalks, which I guess is meant to cross some wet bog (but was completely charred), was damaged by the fire and I saw none of the Common Lizards which are regularly seen basking here. The high temperatures meant that insects were very active and most would not rest long to be photographed.

1 comment:

Martin said...

Nice pics Fraser! Enjoy the blog - keep it up,