Tag Archives: Migrant Hawker

Demons Of The Swamp Vol.3

Fans of The Cramps will get the title and if you don’t like The Cramps a. What is wrong with you? b. Why are we friends? Maybe we’re not.

Anyway, a blog post. First in a year? Does anyone still read blogs? If so read on.

Yesterday I went on my first twitch in absolutely ages. What did I twitch? A Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio, some call it Western Swamphen, I still prefer Purple Gallinule. Will it ever be accepted onto the BOU British List? I doubt it but then Chinese Pond Heron made so maybe.

Anyway one arriving at RSPB Minsmere we were soon watching Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station. I mean the Swampmonster.


Sizewell B


Purple Swamphen


Purple Swamphen

After a while of watching the Swampdonkey walk round a pool a sort of purple haze descends on a man and it was time to head off to the visitor centre to buy some china tea cloths or something and a coffee and bacon butty.

Around the centre, as well as the stench of composting toilets, are lots of Buddleia bushes. These attracted a steady stream of insects and a steady stream of photographers.


Migrant Hawker


Migrant Hawker


Migrant Hawker


Peacock & Red Admiral

By now we needed to see more birds and better insects so yomped a whole 300m to look at the Stone Curlew, two adults and a chick. Can’t be too many places you can see Purple Gallinule and Stone Curlew in the same reserve.

Back towards the centre we dipped Pantaloon Bee but scored with the Beewolves and a bonus if somewhat shy Purple Hairstreak.






Purple Hairstreak

We finished our day watching a pair of Honey Buzzard put on a full flight display over Westwood Lodge at Walberswick. The three lifers in the day Brian Moore’s granddaughter Rosie certainly hit a purple patch!

All photos were either iPhonescoped (still or 4K video) or taken using the camera on the iPhone 6S. Stills from video were taken using the StillShot app.





Extreme Digiscoping

I hadn’t taken the DSLR this morning figuring, rightly, that the Ruff would be a bit distant. These two Migrant Hawkers perched up quite nicely to allow a bit of insect digiscoping. I’m quite pleased with the results.

Migrant Hawker

Migrant Hawker

Migrant Hawker

A good few Southern Hawker as well on the wing today.

Mobile Mig

Dave and I found this very tame Migrant Hawker by the Moat at Cossington Meadows. This allowed me to photograph it using the iPhone. Not bad images for a mobile phone, I’m sure you’ll agree.


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…

Southern Migrant Hawker

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.

Wasp Spider

Plenty of Migrant Hawkers too…

Migrant Hawker

Migrant Hawker

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.