Friday, 23 July 2010

Thursley in summer

Another weekend, and the Bigmos and Sigmonster are both still in Welwyn Garden City, being subjected to rigorous (we hope) testing by the Sigma folk. With no big lens for the birds, we decided to go to Thursley Common on Sunday, where there would be plenty of insects around to distract us from the unphotographable birdlife. It was a fine and sunny afternoon but rather windy (not nearly so bad as it had been at Stodmarsh though).

The lens situation meant a rare outing for the 16-85mm, as Rob set about taking high dymanic range landscapes and panoramas of the Thursley scene. This one shows one of the many boggy pools that are so attractive to dragonflies. Blog readers, do you think we should make a point of including a scenic or two alongside the wildlife pics?

The dragons and damsels around were the same species mix that we saw on a similar trip here last year, with Black Darters and Keeled Skimmers stealing the show. I was hoping for a Golden-ringed but no go.

We did find one new species for the photo library, lurking in a fast-drying ditch alongside the path. The male Emerald Damselfly is a real stunner - a large damsel with a mainly metallic green abdomen and thorax, offset with accents of powder-blue. It also has the habit of resting with its wings open, so you can see all those body colours very clearly.

It's getting a bit late in the year for Large Skippers but there were still a few about. This spotlit male looks like he only has one antenna but photos from another angle show that the other one is present and correct. I think he's just looking at me with his head quizzically tilted to one side.

It was VERY quiet birdwise. One or two Swallows flew briskly overhead. At the northern corner, where there is still a lot of visible fire damage from the arson attack in 2006, we found a Stonechat family. Although Stonechats are cited as classic heathland birds, I think they are more fond of gorse bushes than heathland per se, and Thursley doesn't have a lot of gorse. Along the short section of path through pine and birch wood, we saw a couple of Redstarts.

The boardwalks are usually good for seeing Common Lizards. Not today though. A few insects did pause to warm up on the wood, including this Keeled Skimmer. The shadows of its wings made me double-take at the photo. An eight-winged dragonfly?

Almost back at the car park, we found this Four-spotted Chaser with its lunch - and dinner, and breakfast the next day, going by the size of it. You know it's a good day when you get to eat a meal that's as big as your own head.


Phil said...

Hi Marianne.
I think a scenic shot or two of the area covered in the post is a good idea. I've never been to Thursley but at least I know now what a part of it looks like.
Particularly like the Emerald Damselfly, so elegant and more so for the angled wings I think. Much better pic than mine!

Marianne said...

Thanks Phil :)

It's all too easy to just keep the big lens on the camera the whole time but I do agree that we need to make the effort to take more scenic pics. I really recommend Thursley, if you're ever out that way. Spring is better for birds but it's wonderful for dragons and damsels in high summer. There are Nightjars to see at the moment too if you can stay til dusk.