A tale of two reserves – part 2

I had a wonderful time at Foxearth Meadows, but considering the long drive and poor access to the dragonflies, I probably wouldn’t go again. So instead I decided to try the reserve mentioned by the gentleman I had met in Suffolk the previous week. He said it was called Thursley Common and was just south of Guildford.

I couldn’t find too much on Google, only that one end appeared to be quite hilly, but the other end had plenty of board walks and was close to a lake. I opted for the latter and charging my batteries once more, set out on the M25. The satnav informed me it should have taken exactly one hour, but the traffic was awful and in the end the round trip took almost as long as my drive to Suffolk the previous week.

Leaving the little village of Thursley, I expected to see a sign to the reserve (considering its size of 326 hectares), but there was nothing. Reaching a T junction, I turned right and hoped for the best. Less than a mile further on I spotted a lake on the right, quickly followed by a small car park (Moat car park). Leaving the car in the shade, I wandered over to the lake. It was stunning, but there were already a couple of dogs in the water and I didn’t hold out much hope of seeing any dragonflies. Instead I chose one of the circular walks that took in most of the board walks.

The scenery was amazing, being a heathland site of Special Scientific Interest. The board walk took me through masses of peaty bogs and in the warm sunshine, literally thousands of dragonflies and damselflies could be seen. In fact, the biggest drawback was trying to avoid them as they landed on the warm woodwork in front of my feet. There were hundreds of common lizards too, basking on the edges of the boards.

Then I reached a spot where keen photographers had gathered. One gentleman was busy with his massive lens, while his wife took in the view as she ate her lunch. “Mating emerald damselflies” she said to me, moving over to give me a better view.

I was able to capture this single emerald damselfly not far away.

The board walk reached a T junction and I opted to turn left, as I had seen a small bird displaying on a dead shrub. I was able to get close enough to use the little Powershot and later one of the wardens identified it for me as a stonechat.

Not far from the end of the board walk was a carving dedicated to insects and this was the area favoured by the massive emperor dragonflies. In warm weather they never land, so I stood and watched them for a while. I had photographed a couple of different species in flight before, but never with this camera. I risked a few shots just in case. I actually got lucky the first time, resulting in the image featured above.

It’s a site I have already returned to and no doubt will do so again.

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