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.
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:
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.
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?