Friday 25 July 2014

Sunbathing Under Scrutiny at RSPB Langford Lowfields

My new bicycle hadn't yet had the chance to ride out over the bumpier, squidgier bits of the Sustrans 64 route to RSPB Langford Lowfields. "Well, I must rectify that", I thought as a warm sun lay over the ground like an electric blanket on Wednesday morning, and filled my new drinks bottle before heading out.

Ah...the new drinks bottle. I've never used one while actually cycling before, and having congratulated myself for being able to pick it out the cradle without crashing, I then found out why filling the damn thing with fizzy coke on a warm day is a bad idea.

"Achievement Un-unlocked" I thought, as I was soaked in a foaming, wild spume of coke.

When I got to Langford, happy to arrive in a blur of butterflies and dragonflies, I realised that as is often the case, high summer days are not the best for bird spotting, but this didn't bother me. I had a quick scan of the reedbed from the screen, got frustrated trying to photograph a common blue damselfly, and watched the big metallic winged brown hawkers flying around with those characteristic instantaneous angular turns of the big dragonflies.

Sad that I wasn't able to have a laze in the beach hut, but I settled down on the waterside benches to scan through the heat haze with my 10x50s. No egrets, lots of sad looking brown eclipsing drakes, but a common tern came down to feed a fish to a partner, or very grown up fledgling, seemingly walking on water.

And then a hobby made its way over the reedbed, my first sighting of one since 2012.

I wandered around the edge of the platform, noticing what looked like small perch in the water, and looking at the common blue and blue tailed damselflies flying, and occasionally mating while doing so, low over the water. The squashed bodies of broad bodied chasers were also in the air, looking oddly like giant glow worms with their pale tip to the abdomen. Common darters had also been around.

Then, I heard the buzzing, a loud hum in the hot, thick air.

I turned my head, very very slowly, and found myself looking into the huge, droplet-like eyes of a big hawker dragonfly, no more than 20 centimetres from my head. It's body was brown, with duck egg blue "vents" as I call them on the thorax, and similar coloured stripes on the body. I don't recall glinty bronze wings, so possibly a migrant hawker?

It then headed out over the reeds, hawking for food, allowing me to get back to feeding my body with vitamin D, as sand martins skimmed the water.

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