Thursday 16 August 2012

Destiny or free will? Er... you choose?

On waking, have you ever discovered a decision ready-formed in your mind, an answer to a conundrum of which you weren't even aware? It hadn't happened to me before this weekend, so it was a bit of a shock.

Mind you, there was the time when I knew I wanted to name our wedding day, but that was whilst fully awake, stuck in a cramped Army minibus, cold, wet and miserable, after a particularly arduous orienteering competition in the Lake District. It's funny how Life grabs you by the collar sometimes, stares unnervingly deeply into your eyes and then raises an inquisitorial eyebrow as if to say, "Now do you understand?"

Anyway, I woke up on Saturday morning, and as my eyes struggled to focus on the grey clouds outside the window, I simply knew that today was a Long Mynd day.

We hadn't visited Shropshire since last October, so the beckoning call of the nearest moorland habitat to Tense Towers was like a klaxon in my head. Fresh air, no tarmac or concrete underfoot and wall-to-wall (OK, not actual walls) Odonata. Bring. It. On.

Our Lass received the news gleefully. She's enjoying a spot of time off at the moment, after completing her course, and was equally keen to sample the heather, bracken and big skies. We bundled the usual accoutrements into the car, breakfasted once we arrived in Shropshire and were gazing at Salopian odes before lunch time.

We spent several hours exploring the water bodies and vegetation at Wildmoor Pool. Golden-ringed Dragonflies, Common Hawkers and Black Darters being the larger insects on the wing. There were plenty of Emerald Damsels, as well as Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies.

Lestes romance
Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Cordulegaster boltonii
We left the Mynd for a while and drove across to the Stiperstones ridge, ending up at a cafe at The Bog, an ex-school room for the mining community that lived and worked here in the 1800s. Make all the jokes you like, but the home bakes are delicious and just up the road is a large pond with the occasional winged jewel.

Having quenched our thirst and sampled the cake, we pottered along the bank of the pond, watching an Emperor Dragonfly, Emerald Damsels and several Common Darters. When we sat on a bench, we shared it with one of the latter, who was only too keen to take advantage of a warm and elevated roosting spot...

Sympetrum striolatum, sat on my hand. The black speck is the remains of a fly that he'd just eaten.
He repeatedly flew off to catch more prey, returning to my hand each time to devour his meal. I just love the fact that the situation was of his choosing, to him I was simply a warm thing at a useful height. I was so blissed out, Our Lass had to take the photo.

Following a brief visit to Pole Cottage and the ditch system, which provided more Common Hawkers, Black Darters and Emerald Damselflies, we drove into Church Stretton and enjoyed a pleasant meal in Berry's. After a postprandial wander through the fields by Rectory Wood, we returned to Tense Towers, listening to the final night of Olympic athletics on the radio. A gold medal day on many levels.


Tales of a Bank Vole said...

I like the G R Dragonfly - when can we have some at HESC please?

Imperfect and Tense said...

They are a bit special, aren't they? Whilst there has been the occasional Buckinghamshire record, we're in the wrong bit of the county for ths species. When HESC develops a moorland habitat with flowing streams, I'm sure the GRDs will put in an appearance.

holdingmoments said...

This Long Mynd place sounds a bit special.
I love a bit of moorland.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Just off the A49 between Ludlow and Shrewsbury. Several steep and narrow roads on to the top, if you don't feel like walking. Used to be breeding Ring Ouzels, but they haven't been seen for several years. It's about two and a half hours from MK.

holdingmoments said...

Cheers Graeme. A place for my 'places to visit.'

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Graeme, forget the Mr. Cobweb moniker; you should be called The Dragon Whisperer. Amazing! I would have shook too much from excitement for a dragonfly to land on me, snack, and repeat. He had bad manners, though, to leave crumbs at his table. :D

Imperfect and Tense said...

All the plaudits should go to my odonatological co-star. Common Darters do seem to be the most approachable of dragonflies. I occasionally have a bit of luck when rescuing other species from our conservatory, but my only other repeatable success is Migrant Hawker, on early Autumn mornings when they're glad of my heat!