Thursday, 14 June 2012

Damsels in distress?

Not exactly the best start to the dragonfly season, cold, wet and overcast not the best of conditions, and not many reports coming in from around the borough.
But at least yesterday was dry so I thought I'd give it a go, again not too much time at my disposal so a repeat of the Clockburn lake/Far Pasture double header was the order of the day, with targets of Banded Demoiselle along the river by Clockburn Lake and Four-Spotted Chasers at Far Pasture.

A few Blue-tailed Damsels and even fewer Azure Damsels were along the Clockburn Lake outlet stream, mostly perched up as the cold conditions discourage flying. One Blue-tail in particular was struggling even to perch, tangled upside down in the grass. I managed to free it and had it in hand for a while, so small and delicate at close-quarters, but regaining its senses off it flew before I could photograph it.

Next a short walk along the riverbank and I chanced upon a beaut of a female Banded Demoiselle, motionless on a giant wild rhubarb leaf. She too affected by the cold, I was able to get real close up, snapping from a range of no more than a couple of inches with the macro setting on for some best ever photos of this particular species. Only pity was the sun wasn't shining to show off her green metallic colouring to best effect, but then again I probably wouldn't have got such great pics if it had been.

Banded Demoiselle female
River derwent

Most noticeable was the size of her compared to the Blue-tail I'd just been handling, a relative giant. And the legs too were invredibly long in comparison to those of the smaller blue damsels, though it wasn't til I studied the pics back at home that I realised she had a leg missing.

Same insect - but count the legs

A good search along that small stretch of river didn't come up with any males, though strangely another blue-tail I photographed not far from the demoiselle also showed up in the picture as having a leg missing, coincidence or in view of the weather are they just staying at home and getting legless? (very poor)

Another lost leg  

Anyway, on to Far Pasture, bleak here until a sudden burst of sunshine sent dozens of azure damsels skywards, only for them to disappear again as the sun did likewise. But at least they were there, and a couple of Large Red males appeared also, though not one Four-spotted Chaser showed in the half hour I was there, and I was constantly scanning through the reeds on all sides. Not good.

Large Red Damsel - far pasture

A final check of the roadside ditches revealed a few more Azure Damsels, and a couple of pairs as well allowing some good close-ups from some interesting angles, far more photo-friendly than views you get from the hide.

Even so, the female Banded Demoiselle was the star of the day, and so far this year the quality is making up for lack of quantity.   

Until next time . . . . . .

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