Thursday, 14 July 2011

Second Time Lucky for Southern Hawker

A chance revisit to Thornley Woods Pond proved a good decision as I was thrilled to find a Southern Hawker dragonfly just about to emerge, right out in the open. I took a series of photos at approx ten minute intervals (over a period of about an hour and a half) though I was disappointed that I didn’t get my camera ready quick enough, as when I first saw it, only the head of the dragonfly was showing, still in the larval casing, and it was as I was trying to locate it in my viewfinder that I actually saw its first push of emergence, bringing it to the first photograph in the sequence.
The first push

just hanging around

slipping out a bit further

now reach up . . . 
. . . and swing the tail out
start pumping those wings up
wings just about fully formed

note the pale blue markings on the final few segments
of the abdomen - makes our newborn a boy!
Good luck dude !
(click on photo for better view)


And on this photo from a different angle
the pale blue/green marks can be seen running all along
the top side of the abdomen
(click on photo for closer look)
In between taking these photos, I was also on the lookout for others, and scanning the vegetation at the far side of the pond I saw the shimmering wings of a teneral hawker half hidden in thick cover. I walked round and located it, and got this photo :

A teneral female southern hawker
the thorax and abdomen have diagnostic patterning to tell species apart
the thick waist and yellow band markings at the tail end make it a female

Later a mature male came sweeping around the pond looking for mates, and flushed another teneral female which flew up into the branches of an oak tree above, again I was able to locate it about 18 foot up and got this shot from below.

another teneral female
The male was joined by another, a skirmish ensued, and they both flew off, the victor returning a minute or so later and resumed patrol around the pond margins looking for a female to latch on to, all far too quick for my photographic skills to capture, indeed I could hardly keep pace with my binoculars. The male was unsuccessful and after five minutes or so was gone, and that was the last I saw.
Damsels present were of only the two species recorded last visit. About 20 large reds and 40-50 Azure damsels.
It was with a bit of frustration when I had to leave, I would loved to have kept on photographing the emerging male southern hawker and see it through to take-off, but by all accounts it can take hours. I only hope it got away before the inevitable dog-walkers arrived for their daily rampage of the pond.
Specimen recorded : Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea

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