PLEASE READ THIS FIRST – if you share any Southern migrant hawker sightings from Wat Tyler CP please link/post the bold text below
Please forgive the possibly lecturing tone to the below, it is hard to write something, like this without it coming out that way! 🙂
In 2013 after sighting this dragonfly species in the park and getting some nice photos, wanting to share it with everyone, I put the word out that it was showing. Unfortunately the dragonflies moved to a less accessible pond so were less easy to see and sadly the area around the pond became trampled. In one area someone had jumped the fence and trampled a path through the reeds into the pond itself. This obviously is bad in itself with Wat Tyler being a SSSI, but it also meant a path was opened up for dogs to cause disturbance to a previously undisturbed pond.
At this time of year the park will also be very busy with families and others so the wardens will already be very busy and do not need to be dealing with people causing damage to the SSSI habitats.
As a result I was reluctant last year to report any sightings, but there were only a couple of brief sightings anyway. Today I saw 2 or 3 and they were on an accessible pond. So after careful discussion with the head warden we have decided to put the word out this time as the risk of trampling is low here and simply because I want to share this so people can see this wonderful species.
Can everyone please keep to the paths and boardwalks and avoid trampling any surrounding pond vegetation, as the park is an SSSI and is home to rare species such as great crest newts, scarce emerald damselflies and shrill carder bees. On a personal note after working there for 6 years it is quite a special place to me and it was quite upsetting to see the damage done after I had reported the sighting, to the point where I regretted doing it.
If similar trampling/damage is caused in this year it has been decided that news of any future rarity will not be reported from the park. I hope from the above you can understand why
Anyway now on to the sightings. About Midday today (21st July) my friend Dave who volunteers for the RSPB on site showed me a photo of the Southern migrant hawker on his camera and said they are on the slope where we saw them before. So completely misunderstanding him (my fault) I headed for the boardwalk bridge where there is a slope where we had seen in 2013 originally. I saw nothing there or on the inaccessible pond and then my brain woke up and a realised Dave meant the concrete ramp on the ‘Marina Pond.’ This is the pond nearest the marina and marina car park at the very end of the entrance road. I didnt even make it to ramp before I saw one flying around path between the car park and the pond.
I had to use manual focus as the reeds confused the AF somewhat and the dragonfly never completely hovered still in the strong wind. One interesting observation was they seemed to fly in a fashion that was more darter like than I have observed other hawkers do, perhaps this was due to the high wind speed.
If you wish to visit as mentioned in the first part the park is very busy in the holidays and the car parks can fill up. You are best arriving at 10am or 11am at the latest to beat the rush. There is a cafe on site and in previous years the SMH tended to show from around about 11/11.30 am.
Here is a printable map with the pond pointed out
Once again please forgive the ‘please read this section,’ I wish it wasn’t necessary, but sadly I feel it is.
And please send me your sightings, I am at some point going to finish the paper I’ve been working on, on this species in the UK. Leave them in the comments here or send me and/or email me