Thursday 21 July 2016

A Brilliant trip to Esher Common: 19 July

Last year I had visited Esher Common in Surrey on a sweltering hot day in early July and had had some partial success with Brilliant Emerald flight photography, so this year I was keen to try again. With the recent poor weather and various family commitments, there hadn't been a suitable day until this week when the conditions suddenly improved dramatically. So I decided to take a rare day off work and head back there.

Leaving around 09:30 I hoped to miss the worst of the rush hour, and despite some congestion on the M25 I was pulling into the convenient lay-by before 11:30. I then headed directly to the south west corner of Black Pond where there is small bay. Last year at this spot there was at least the possibility of Brilliant Emeralds flying slowly enough to get some photos.

There is however one big downside to this site - the frequent dog walkers and their charges that like nothing better to engage in doggy water sports (endless cries of "good boy" - as another wretched mutt retrieves a ball or stick from the exact Emerald spot!). All this commotion of course makes for a temporary lack of dragonflies, so there is option to wait it out until they move on. At least on a weekday there were slightly fewer interruptions from this than last year when I visited on a Saturday.

Unfortunately after almost 2 hrs of waiting, although I had seen several Brilliant Emeralds, none had presented even the faintest chance of a shot. Dis-heartened I decided to seek out a couple of small pools that another Odonata hunter I met recommended. These are marked on the 1:25,000 map and are about 1km directly to the east of Black Pond. The highlight here was 2-3 Black Darters, as well as Emperor and Brown Hawkers. It was also amazingly hot out in the full sun!

After awhile here, I headed back to the Black Pond for another go at the Emeralds, and this time as the sun had moved round, I positioned myself on the western side of the bay, on the edge of the dog walkers path. Finally, a Brilliant Emerald appeared that provided a momentary opportunity for a couple of in-focus frames, one of which was a definite improvement on last years attempt. So success after about 4hrs on site - and time to head back in time to avoid the worst of the evening rush.

Brilliant Emerald on Black Pond
Goto to my website for a larger image 
Black Darter on one of the small pools to the east

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