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Bramshill Plantation A veritable dragonfly feast

Parking

Bramshill Plantation is a large area of woodland, ponds and heath which provide plenty of habitats for dragonflies. On a good day it is unbeatable, but like all good sites it can have its bad days, and I've had plenty!

The good days however make up for them and is the reason I'm still returning after several years. So if you have an unfulfilling day at Bramshill don't blame the messenger! Choose a warm, calm day with plenty of sunshine, prepare look beyond the water.

Common Blue
Emperor

For first-time visitors I suggest concentrating on Long Pond, an aptly-named relatively-shallow lake with reasonable shore access and plenty of healthy emergent vegetation. For a man-made water body the diversity is, in my opinion, superb with Large Red, Azure, Red-eyed, Small Red-eyed, Blue-tailed, Common Emerald and the inevitable Common Blue.

Red-eyed and Common Blue

Fans of the larger species can enjoy early-season action with Downy Emerald, Hairy Dragonfly and Four-spotted Chaser followed by Emperor, Black-tailed and Keeled Skimmer while summer sees the arrival of Common and Ruddy Darter, Brown, Southern and Migrant Hawker.

Black-tailed Skimmer

One of the reasons I love Bramshill is the level of over-water action on a hot, sunny day. Hundreds of Damsels can be seen clinging to the emergent plants or flying low in tandem. Tenerals rise in impressive numbers towards the treeline or, if your lucky, to the abundance of bank-side scrub offering plenty of opportunities for the photographer.

Common Darter

If that wasn't enough to wet your appetite there are the paths either side of the lake where on a good day every footstep prompts a sighting, whether its Skimmers, Darters and Chasers basking on the gravel track or Hawkers hunting above your head, frequently perching nearby on gorse, heather, bramble, willow, birch and sallow.

Four-spotted Chaser

You can spend a whole day at Long Pond however there is a lot more to see if you are prepared to dig a little deeper. Like a lot of Bramshill Long Pond has suffered with extensive scrub growth over the past few years meaning shore access isn't what it used to be, however this is a working forest and judging by the work I've witnessed in Spring 2019 efforts have been made elsewhere to remove overgrown scrub.

Downy Emerald

Turn left and follow the track over a newly-cleared stream and turn left again at the junction to reach the two central ponds

Blue-tailed

At the south-east corner of the right-hand pond follow the track east-south-east and you will find a small clearing with a stream where you can find Golden-ringed and Beautiful Demoiselles along with several others taking time out among the scrub. Walk around the clearing to return or follow it south where there's another small pond alive with duck and frog chorus. These smaller ponds play host to Broad-bodied Chasers among others.

Emperor and Common Blue

There are more ponds to the north & east of the triangle. This one is ideal for Downy and even the elusive Brilliant Emerald which I have seen here on more than one occasion. Thankfully the northern side has been opened out to allow shore access, which wasn't possible prior to 2018.

Migrant Hawker

Bramshill benefits by its close proximity to the River Blackwater which provides the perfect corridor. Beautiful Demoiselles can frequently be found in large numbers around the site usually sunning themselves in warm, sheltered pockets.

Ruddy Darter

There is so much to explore and even I haven't exploited every possibility. To conclude I must mention the hidden ponds. These small, shallow ponds created within a clearing offer an alternative habitat to the larger lakes and each have their own little charms. However the scrub has been allowed to overgrow to such an extent that it has been virtually impossible to access them since 2017.

Teneral Four-spotted Chaser

Hopefully they'll rectify this and do a major clearance, although it's a constant problem as a previous clearance lasted less than three years. Across the way they have begun to clear a large section of scrub, almost giving access to this pond, however a recent visit revealed a new prohibitive fence, presumably to protect ground nesting birds.

Teneral Downy Emerald

Thankfully there is plenty to explore and a walk down one of the many paths can bring benefits with feeding and roosting dragonflies taking time out from the water.

Azure

To access the clearing take the second right-hand path from the entrance until you reach a break in the trees on the right. Opposite you will find the entrance where the clearing will open out after crossing a small ditch. Head south-east following a faint path until you reach the three ponds.

Brilliant Emerald

There is another pond back near the entrance and yet another larger wooded pond hidden away to the west which can be reached by following a small path leading through a gap in the trees.

Common Darter

In my opinion Bramshill Plantation is a wonderful site for dragonflies and well worth the effort to explore. The main paths can be busy with dog walkers and therefore parking may be limited, especially since parking restrictions have been brought in to prevent any parking along Wellhouse Lane. Unfortunately this means there is now a long walk in to the north-east corner.

Common Emerald

There you have it - the newest entry for Where To See Dragonflies from Hampshire Dragonflies. If you have enjoyed this entry please show your appreciation by clicking the icon below.

Southern Hawker
Created By
Paul Ritchie
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All content Copyright 2017 Paul Ritchie