Every year stuff comes round and stuff moves on. Another year, another swallow. Marvellous though all of the seasonal comings and goings are, I guess we all have those handful of special things that manage to gobsmack us each and every year even though we've seen it all before.
I was standing in an overgrown field staring at butterflies but it wasn't the ringlet that did it. It was the momentary reflection of sunlight in the corner of my eye followed by an unmistakable plasticky clatter of wings and then the breathtaking moment when a brand new dragonfly perched on a hazel leaf right in front of me. As I slowly rotated my head to get a proper look without scaring it off, so the female southern hawker slowly rotated its head to and fro and we scrutinised each other. There is no escaping the immense fixed eyes that fold right around the top and sides of the head.
To see the empty nymph case of a Southern Hawker, click here . The mould of the eyes is fascinating.