I was hoping for a nice warm, sunny, still summer’s day to venture back down to Ashdown Forest but despite today being the best day of the week it did not quite turn out as I had hoped.
I met Carl at Old Lodge car park and it was already cooler and windier than anticipated as we set off on the circuit. We had a pleasant walk around but it was very quiet with not a huweet, churr, toloeet or gyp from any of the breeding specialities. Stonechat families were showy though and were new for Carl and a few Siskins blew around in the wind.
The bog was very dry and there was only a little water in the first two pools around which I searched the edges for Raft Spiders.
Quite a few Poecilobothrus nobilitatus were dancing on the bouncy meniscus of the pool, waving their wings at the vaguely interested females. A couple there, asked me if I knew what they were and I have to admit to loving telling them, yes, and then tripping this one off the tongue. The gentleman enthusiastically wrote it down in his book.
Male Emperor and Black-tailed Skimmer briefly dropped in and we found several Azure and Large Red Damsels but I thought that there would be more big dragons around these sheltered pools.
|Large Red Damselfly
Two Southern Hawkers were found at different stages of emergence and only now had to avoid being eaten before taking their maiden flights.
A Willow Warbler gave a little bit of song and lone Buzzard was dragged in speedy circles across the sky and a brood of third grown Pheasant chicks fed unconcerned at our feet in the grass – not the best of survival traits.
|Pheasant - could have picked them up
Heath Spotted Orchids were dotted up the path as we climbed out of the valley bottom and a tiny little ground hugging blue flower became my second Bellflower in two days but this one, the Ivy-leaved, was at completely the other end of the scale to yesterday’s Nettle-leaved.
|Heath Spotted Orchid
After a spot of lunch we drove down to Ellison’s Pond but it was not really how I remembered it. I know that the cows use it as a watering hole but there was very little vegetation around the edges and lots of thick mud where they and hounds had been in. The chances of a Raft Spider to rival that of ten years ago were probably a little less than zero. A chance shot of briefly perched Dragon gave me a nice Keeled Skimmer although I only realised when I got home.
|Pond skater - one of the bigger species
We conducted an undulating circuit out on the heath where Stonechats, Linnets, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were encountered but there were no insects bar a couple of windblown Small Heaths and Meadow Browns and none of my hoped for Blues.
With increasing wind and dropping temperatures we decided to cut our losses and head for our homes. It may not have been the wildlife extravaganza I had hoped to share but it is always good to catch up and have a good reminisce.