Friday, 5 August 2011

The Mystery of the Black Tarn

Today was a day-off, but a DragonHunter is never off duty. A family outing oop north to Cragside National Trust Estate in Northumberland came up trumps on the long uphill walk to the Adventure Play park. On the way, half way up the craggy hillside is a small Tarn where we rested a short while allowing me to scan for Dragons and Damsels.
Two male Common Hawkers tussled on the far side, one eventually attempted to take a female out of the thick grass but she was having none of it and clung on to her stem, the pair’s wings rattling away as they struggled against each other. A dull yellowish darter was also patrolling far side but not much chance of an ID at that range, and in the shallows on the near-side, five Emerald damsels and a large red were the only others present.
Nothing startling there you might think and you’d be right, but on the way back down we had to stop at the picnic table there to change a nappy (sorry if that’s too much information) and hovering over the table was a very dark little darter, club-tipped rather like an over-ripe ruddy. It landed despite the presence of three noisy sprogs and while Mrs DragonHunter got on with changing duties I reeled off a few snaps in case it disappeared before I could ID it, as it continued to hover and land, hover and land, while seemingly investigating us at close quarters.
I put the camera down and inspected it through binoculars, and confirmed my suspicions I had here a male Black Darter, now excuse my excitement but not just the first of the year for me, the first of the Millenium, aye the last time I saw a Black Darter was actually last century(!) in Dumfries and Galloway I remember, when I was nowt but an apprentice, in fact my first ever DragonHunt in a successful quest for Azure Hawker. Sothis is my first one ever in England, though I ’m hoping to seek them out in my homeland of Gateshead before the summer is out as well.
Anyway here are a few snaps I took, not a specimen in prime condition, if anything an over-mature individual I would think, the orangey spotting at the base of the abdomen, and the yellow markings on the thorax are very much duller than they would be on a prime male, but nonetheless a Dragon I was really pleased to find.

Black Darter Stmpetrum danae (male)
 Can't add it to my Quest Stats though as it was outside my home borough of Gateshead. Never mind, I'll get one later I'm sure. Watch this space.

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