Friday, 23 June 2017

Marsh Harriers in The Fens and a New Dragonfly for Cambridgeshire

19th June 2017

Time for another visit to The Fens to see how the Marsh Harrier nests are going and whether any young have fledged yet. It was going to be a very hot day with temperatures in the 30s, so I arrived earlier than usual and parked myself in the hide with all the windows open to create a flow of air.

Everything was deathly quiet apart from a few Reed Warblers chuntering away in the reeds. Even the nature of the pond had changed since my last visit with several sprigs of Greater Bladderwort pushing their way, without leaves, through the water. But the Reed Warblers seemed less concerned about the heat and put in several appearances quite close allowing a few shots to be taken,

The harriers did eventually appear, but in a rather half-heartedly sort of way, preferring to sit around rather than waste energy on hunting. A couple of females did a few laps of the reed-bed, but there was no sign at any time of hunting, seemingly waiting for the males to bring food in as is often the case.

A lone male did take to the skies allowing a few shots, but disappeared as soon as it had arrived over the trees, never to be seen again.

At this point I thought I would have a look at some dragonflies on my way out. The diversity of species at this rather spectacular dragonfly habitat seemed be fairly restricted with only Azure Damselflies representing the blues. From the hide I had seen Emperor and the first Brown Hawkers, but not a single darter of any description, possibly still a bit early. By far the commonest dragonfly was the Four-spotted Chaser.

However, at the opposite end of the scale, I spotted a demoiselle perched high in a tree. I immediately recognised it and realised its significance so took some record shots. For this was no ordinary demoiselle, but a female Beautiful Demoiselle. normally only found in the south and west of England.

I submitted the photo to the County Recorder who has confirmed the identification and also that it is the first record for Cambridgeshire. So I feel a little chuffed as I drive home.

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