Meeting up a Colin Green’s this morning at 07.00 I had been keen to be away. Looking at the weather though and the offer of a coffee seemed ok. Colin, Dave and I were then on our way sarf through initially improving weather. As we approached the M25 though the weather really deteriorated. Plans had to change. I was confident the weather would improve, question was, when?
Our first stop was Rainham Marshes, the newish RSPB reserve. What a fantastic urban space. The RSPB have got to congratulated for creating such a brilliant place and Londoners should be forced to visit at least once in their life… Catholics should be told that one pilgrimage to Rainham is worth three to Rome.
After a (rip-off) bacon sandwich at the cafe, my only quibble (£3.10 with hardly any bacon and ditch the salad girls) we set off round the reserve. Sadly we didn’t see any Water Vole but I added Marsh Frog to my (non-existent) amphibian list. Plenty of Reed Warbler, mostly juveniles and a good range of large white-headed Gulls. A 4th summer proved tricky but the well marked tertials probably relegated it to Herring Gull. A 1W Yellow-legged Gull was non so controversial. By the end of the walk Colin had had his first lesson in Dragonfly id… the Common and Ruddy Darter debate.
I was keen to move on up the A13 (cue Billy Bragg sing-along) to Hadleigh Castle and Downs Country Park for our target species. After a meandering walk adding loads of butterflies including Marbled White and Brown Argus we found the right area. A few Migrant Hawkers in a ride revealed a female Southern Migrant Hawker Aeshna affinis which landed briefly but flew again before I could record the event. A shout came up further down and a few hardy souls who had been searching for about 5 hours had found a stunning male Southern Migrant Hawker.
A stunning and fucking rare insect. Which performed brilliantly. So blue, so brilliant. It finally landed and I was able to get two shots, only one in focus before it was off – I was also the only photographer there to get a shot too…
Looking again at the photo, this affinis has a deformed wing. It didn’t seem to affect the insect but I wonder if it managed to migrate with such a deformity or is it locally bred? That’s an intriguing thought.
A fabulous Wasp Spider was a diversion while trying to relocate the SMH.
Plenty of Migrant Hawkers too…
Other good dragons were Small Red-eyed Damselfly and Scarce Emerald Damselfly. An excellent day out that also included a diversion on to Canvey Island… birthplace of Dr Feelgood.