Since starting my new company back at the beginning of August, opportunities to post on The Badger’s Eye have been scant, evenings and weekends taken up with the inevitable overspill from the working week, plus a bit of football, which is always a distraction! In the meantime though, we have had the wonderful reports from Luke’s trip to the north-west coast of the Americas to keep us entertained.
With last Sunday such a beautiful day in the south-east of England I took the opportunity to sneak off for a couple of hours with camera and hide. I chose a spot on the River Rib just to the north of Standon Lordship where in the snows of last winter I had spied a kingfisher, my obvious hope that one of these wonderful birds would make an appearance for me.
Sadly, I was to be disappointed. Wrong place, wrong time maybe or perhaps the occasional passing walkers and their dogs kept the ‘azzuri’ away from the short patch of riverbank under my gaze.
No matter though, the day was glorious, the warm sun on my back through the hide as I sipped coffee from my flask. A moorhen kept me entertained and the sound of the babbling brook added an idyllic soundtrack to my reverie. The low, strong sun made for high contrast in the hawthorn bushes that lined the banks, the bright red berries looking succulent and ripe. No birds visited them, perhaps saving these life-givers for later into the winter period.
A few hours later I packed up and returned up the path, pausing to gaze on the medieval splendour of the Lordship, so recently home to summer festival sounds of Standon Calling. As I leant on the fence, a dragonfly hovered by me and then came to rest on the post next to me, warming it’s cold-blooded body in the descending afternoon sun. I identified it as a Ruddy Darter, with an abdomen of red and and a dot on each of its four wings. It was a delight to study close-up, giving a small highlight to my restful afternoon.
Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum
At 34-36mm long, this species is smaller than the Common Darter. It’s legs are entirely black and it has black marks at the tip of each of it’s four wings. As they mature, males become blood-red, females having a yellow ochre abdomen and thorax. Both sexes have a noticeable constriction in the abdomen. The Ruddy Darter inhabits weedy ponds and ditches and also woodland. It’s currently expanding range includes south-east England and central Ireland. Various immigrant and resident species of Darter are difficult to identify, particularly the females. The blood red colour of the male however is a clear identifier.