Saturday, 24 July 2010

Southern Migrant Hawkers in Hadleigh, Essex!

I commented in my previous post that Southern Emerald Damselfly was a rare beast in the UK, but nevertheless a fair few people have seen them. Southern Migrant Hawker is rarer still (approx seven records to date, I’ve been told), and has never been ‘twitchable’… so news of several together in Essex earlier this week was interesting. Details of the location this afternoon made things even more interesting, so a rapid response crew was assembled to go for a look.

Success!

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The site is Hadleigh Country Park, north of Canvey Island. We parked on St Mary’s Road by the junction with Station Road and School Lane (NB parking restrictions, and take care not to block driveways), went through the gate labelled ‘country park’ and headed ESE down through some scrub to the north edge of some grazing meadows, north of the railway. The hawkers were pretty consistently seen along a sedge-lined ditch about half a mile from the car – this ditch runs south from a small pool and wooden cattle corral for about 2-300m. The best stretch seemed to be immediately south of the pond, and all the photos shown were taken there.

This is roughly the route:

hawker directions

I certainly saw five males concurrently along that ditch (though others had a few more, I think) plus an immature male about two-thirds the way from the car to the pond. There are a few Migrant and Brown Hawker in the area as well, plus Small Red-eyed Damselflies and Scarce Emeralds around the pond, and Marbled Whites on the grassland. The Southern Migrant Hawkers were almost constantly active, only occasionally ‘hanging up’ when the sun went in for more than a few minutes.

southern_migrant_hawker1

It’s interesting to speculate about whether the recent wave of rare dragons and damsels from the continent is the start of colonisation. Willow Emeralds are back on the (spread)wing in Suffolk again; in a few years, will we view Dainty Damsel, Southern Emerald and Southern Migrant Hawker as regular species in the south-east?

southern_migrant_hawker3

southern_migrant_hawker4

6 comments:

James Lowen said...

Excellent, David: thanks for the gen. Neat photos too. James L

James Lowen said...

Exc gen, thanks David. Neat photos too. cheers, James

VC55 Wildlife said...

Fantastic photos... I've been doing a lot worse this year. Thanks for posting such good info - hopefully they will stay to next weekend now. My plans for today were scuppered a bit when I walked into the French doors trying to scare off a cat and had to go to the NHS walk-in centre at Loughborough.
Dave, I've linked your blog to mine - The Drunkbirder. Any chance of a reciprocal link... parental advisory lyrics warning though.

David said...

Hi John

Glad you like the photos and hope the info helps if you can get down here next weekend. I've added a link to your blog - you've got some nice shots there as well!

cheers
David

Peter said...

Hi David - I picked up wind of these beauties via another website and managed to see one on Tuesday (3/8). Just managed to get a few half-decent shots when a guy with a big net came up and proclaimed himself a "collector". In spite of protestations, he caught the hawker and took it home with him. Still feeling sick at the thought. I thought that practice went out with the Victorians. Peter

Alan Dalton said...

Stunning set of images...