Sorry, more insects. I have a weekend without wife or children, and in a cruel twist of fate, it is also without birds. My plan was to go on some kind of photography expedition, or perhaps a mega-twitch, but I never formulated a concrete plan for the former, and the biggie failed to materialise. Hmmm, what to do? The patch, naturally.
So, up at 5am and out. The first bird seen was the White-cheeked Turaco, which I think makes it four days out of the last five, Thursday being the only no-show. As usual it was chuckling to itself, and jumping about the same tree recently vacated by the cat. I've said it before and I'll say it again, great bird! The cat is fine by the way. Once we got it down, I took it with my neighbour to the vets, where both were given a relatively clean bill of health, apart from the neighbour had worms so the vet had to give him a pill. I think I have that the right way round. Here she is by the way, in case you have lost a cat. A lady up the street is currently looking after it, but will only give it back if you can confidently answer a lot of questions about it.
Anyway, bar the Turaco, not a lot doing in Wanstead. Kingfisher on Alexandra Lake early doors, and a Common Tern fishing on the Basin were the only birds of note, so another brilliant use of sleep-time. I had to spend the rest of the morning going to Farnham and back to pick up a new camera bag, but once back I still had no bright ideas. Paul had called last night and said he might be twitching a Dragonfly today, would I like to come? Twitch a Dragonfly, you must be out of your mind?! What a crazy notion, no chance, have fun though.
I joined the others at Rainham, where we all got into Bradders' Subaru and headed off to the secret site. It isn't much of a secret any more... The target was a Southern Migrant Hawker, of which just six had been recorded in the UK before. In the world of Dragonflies, I am led to believe that this about as mega as it gets. The twitch was an outstanding success, and we added numbers seven through about fourteen to the British list, thus over doubling it. In the world of birding, this is the equivalent of finding a small flock of White-tailed Plovers in a field, including some fledged chicks. Now I'm not much into Dragonflies, so it did feel a bit odd to be seeing a species that almost all of those who are into them had never seen, but they'll get their chance. They're probably making plans for tomorrow even as I type.
Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so you don't get to see what one looks like.
Pretty smart huh? As insects go, fairly impressive, but still just a Dragonfly though, so I'm not getting too excited. My feet remain firmly on the ground. Although I don't keep a list of Dragonflies I've seen, it was a tick for me, as it was for Paul. My list, if I kept one, would be 17, whereas his is 45. That's if he kept one of course, but he hates lists so it's unlikely.
At the same time as the Southern Migrant Hawkers, I also saw Small Red-eyed Damselfly, and Scarce Emerald Damselfly, both of which were new for me. Roy was with us too, and pointed all these out, as I didn't have a clue. I did not realise that he is a Dragonfly fanatic, but I can now testify that he really is. Here, have a photo of the Emerald. And a yellow one, a female Ruddy Darter I think. Might be a Common Darter of course, no doubt people will put me right.
So, I can now say I have twitched an insect. Well, I suppose I twitched Shaun's Lime Hawk Moth, so I have now twitched two insects. I also saw a Blair's Mocha Moth at Longstone's Cafe on Scilly, but I was there to twitch the cake. It showed well. Briefly.
I went all the way to Thursley Common last weekend looking for decent dragonflies! doh!