Thursday, 13 October 2011

End of Season Report

Definitely autumn now, and the Dragonhunter hasn’t been out hunting dragons since the end of the ‘Indian Summer’ a couple of weeks back, which was a bit of a freak spell but gave us the elusive Black Darter, proving the earlier pessimism about their demise was a bit previous, with a maximum of four seen at Stargate and several more at Kibblesworth.
That gave a total of 16 species seen in Gateshead borough this summer, one less than last year when a roving Golden-ringed Dragonfly was present at Gibside for a few days.
Of those 16 I managed to observe and photograph 15, missing out on the single black-tailed Skimmer seen on a few occasions at Kibblesworth back in June.
On my home patch of the lower Derwent valley, I observed and photographed 13 species, with nothing new seen this year.
Highlight to me was just the overall learning experience through keeping this blog. I’ve learned a lot about types of habitat, improved my field craft and have observed behavioural traits in species and various stages of maturity which all aid identification.
Photographically a few highlights spring to mind, the early season female broad-bodied chaser at Stargate,  the coupling Common Hawkers at Burdon Moor, a best ever photo of male Southern Hawker at Thornley Woods Pond and the perched Migrant Hawker at Far Pasture, and overall I’ve been pleased with the standard of photos I’ve managed to attain.
And on a listing note, the Black Darters being a personal first for Gateshead was a true late season bonus.

I may still get the odd straggler this month but otherwise I shall be back next year to fill in a few gaps (Black-tailed Skimmer, male Broad-bodied Chaser to name but two) and set myself some new targets. Meantime I’ll update with any good general wildlife watching days over the winter, and get illustrating the ID features and other stuff about dragonflies I’ve learned this year.
To finish here are the best of the last bunch of photos I took at Far Pasture during the October heat wave (all common darters in varying stages of maturity)

male common darter in peak condition

An over-ripe specimen

female slightly over the hill 

and another

a better angle

nice composition of a male from below

and another with Gibside's column of
British Liberty blurred in the background

contrasted against strong sunlight

moving round to see him in all his glory
So thanks to all followers and visitors, it's adios for now but keep looking in for updates. Cheers.

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