The Admiral and I had the good fortune to arrive just as temperatures were hitting optimum for our favourite insects. We could see darters, hawkers and damsels out over the water and we watched, amazed, as the activity suddenly changed emphasis and headed in our direction.
The hawkers moved off the water, over the reeds, across the path where we were stood, then settled on the gorse and dog rose hedge behind us. Maximum sun, check, minimum breeze, check. They're consistent, you have to give 'em credit. I must admit, I'd never before witnessed such a slick, seemingly co-ordinated manoeuvre from a group of dragons. I took a few shots of male Migrant Hawkers and then we pottered along a bit further.
Stopping to scan a likely spot, but not seeing anything, our attention was diverted by a single Lapwing call. Looking up, we saw a huge flock of about 500 of these plovers drifting across the sky, whilst they decided whether to drop on to the bund in the main lake.
Resetting our sights to the lowly vegetation, we were surprised to discover a male Southern Hawker, now roosted where we had previously been looking. Again, I was lucky to be able to take a few shots without disturbing it.
At the far end of the reserve, we heard a Cetti's Warbler calling, before spotting a pair of Ruddy Darters "in cop" and discovering several female Migrant Hawkers roosted on the hedges.
The return journey was even warmer. The wood of one of the benches was heating up nicely and had eight darters perched on it, soaking up the rays, directly and indirectly. But that's another story...
After lunch, I bit the bullet and decided to mow the lawn, despite its dampness. With more rain forecast, it seemed like a good idea. This proved to be the case, because otherwise I wouldn't have gone out and looked at the pond. For there, perched on a rush leaf, was a newly-emerged male Common Darter, a full two months after his brethren had left the aquatic world and taken to the skies. Sadly, due to his quirky timing, it's unlikely that he will see out his expected life span before the frosts take hold and the dragonfly season comes to an end for another year.