I was up at 4.30 a.m. to take Ben to work, and then went off to Thorpe Wood just after 5.30 to do the fifth breeding bird transect of the season. The sky was overcast, which meant that the wood was very gloomy now that the trees are in full leaf. Fewer birds are singing and I struggled to spot many birds thanks to the low light levels.
By late morning the sun had broken through and it became extremely warm. I felt quite tired after two days of fieldwork so just pottered in the garden. At lunchtime this beautiful female Scarce Chaser dropped by for a few minutes. This species, which is much less scarce than formerly, breeds in the River Nene, which is only a kilometre or so from our garden. It is mostly found in lowland river floodplains with slow-flowing, meandering rivers and large dykes.Inhabited sites characteristically have good water quality, which supports submerged and floating plants as well as prolific stands of emergent vegetation. Ovipositing females require areas of slow flowing open water, and the adults require some shrub or tree shelter. After emergence, many of the chasers fly quite long distances to forage in suitable habitat before returning to their breeding sites, and we usually get one or two in the garden most years. I missed the female Broad-bodied Chaser that turned up a bit later!