An initial scan of the pool revealed at least half a dozen four-spotted chasers, hunting, skirmishing but not posing as they are seemingly driven to a frenzy by the bright sunshine, and a good number of single and coupling blue damsels, of which closer inspection reveals a mix of Common blue, Azure and Blue-tailed. We stealthily circled the main pool, looking for the Black-tailed Skimmer in the channels surrounding the island, but alas, nothing to be seen.
Suddenly a shout goes out as a magnificent male Emperor Dragonfly makes a sortie across the pool. This large hawker dragonfly is the most distinctive and aggressive of the British species, and combined with aerial speed and agility makes him a danger to all insects flying in the area, even the four-spotted chasers are not immune from his attacks. He makes three rapid passes of our position, I sweep my camera in tune with his sorties and click away in the hope of capturing him on his mission, and somehow succeed with this shot below. Result!
Unfortunately, as seems to be the norm these days, the Curse of the Clouds strikes, and all dragonfly flights are called off. The cloud cover has an immediate effect, the dozen or so four-spotted chasers disappear too, so the rest of the session is confined to hunting out courting and freshly emerged damsels, of which there are many, and my two companions seek out perched up four-spotted chasers in the heavily vegetated far-end of the pool which they seem to favour.
Here are the best of the shots I managed, showing some new behaviour in the life cycle.
|A canny profile shot of an Azure damsel|
Plenty of these on show today, mainly in tandem pairs
|The mating wheel|
This is the next stage after coupling up, Azure damsels stay close to their
chosen pond for copulation, which generally takes about 30 minutes, before
returning in tandem for ovipositing.
|Another mating wheel, Azure damsels, seem to be much more common|
than the Common Blue at the moment.
|Female Blue-tailed Damsel|
A mature specimen, immatures start adult life with either a pink or violet thorax
becoming green/brown with age
No Black-tailed Skimmer then, but we’ll be back, and a cracking view of the Emperor made the visit well worthwhile.
Mission Accomplished : Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator