In 2010 a number of Southern migrant hawker dragonflies (Aeshna affinis) turned up at Hadleigh Country Park, a few miles East of Wat Tyler CP. They also turned up at Vange Wick (not Vange Marsh) just to the south of Wat Tyler CP, so I’ve been hoping they would turn up here. Last year, I spotted a lone female, a month before others were reported in Hadleigh CP, but sadly saw no more in Wat Tyler CP. Yesterday however I spotted a male patrolling a pond in the park! Oddly it was patrolling with the sun behind a cloud, where previous observations by me and others showed they normal flew when it was sunny, but perched soon after the sun went behind a cloud. I only could observe it for a couple of minutes around 2 and again about 10minutes later as I was working at the time.
It eventually flew off without me getting a photo, but at a pond on the other boardwalk at the bridge I managed all the photos in this post as it briefly hovered while patrolling, usually just after seen off a common or ruddy darter.
At one point I saw 2 males wrestling at this second pond and a chat with a friend who wandered down afterwards believes there are 3 males around these two ponds and a thirds, where I later in the day (about 2pm) saw a ragged winged male perched briefly. I also saw another male in the hawthorn scrub some distance from these ponds at around 3.30pm. It seems peak activity is between a short time before midday and 3pm.
If you plan to visit the park to see these (which with the Olympics on in Hadleigh Country Park, it might be a better option this weekend – I’m also not sure there have been any records of mature specimens being seen yet) please bear in mind that the car park fills quickly at weekends and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays when the bouncy castles etc. are in, sometime by 11am. It is very much a multi use park, but tends to be quieter away from the main field and play ground, except for dog walkers, many of which sadly use the ponds and dog paddling pools and some won’t care if you are taking photos/watching wildlife there or not. Don’t be put of as there are scarce emeralds and its the only site in Essex which has had southern emerald damselfly recorded (once in 2011 and once in 2010)
I’ve had a play with Bing Maps as the aerial photo on Google is hopelessly out of date. The Bing aerial photo is a couple of years old, as the board walks and green roofed toilet are not there in it, but it should get you to the ponds. I’ve also added some good scarce emerald localities too:
Map of park with locations (updated 10-8-12)
If you do see any Southern migrant hawkers in the park please let me know either here, or on Twitter ( @UK_wildlife ) or the UK wildlife fan page