Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Depressa-ing News

Libellula depressa that is . .

Yesterdays eager anticipation turned to disbelief as early morning sunshine gave way to cloud and rain by the time we ventured over to Stargate in search of Libellula depressa (or Broad-bodied Chaser if you prefer), so to cut a long story short we drew a blank. Plenty of Common Blue and Blue-tailed damsels perched up on the emergent grasses mid-pond but despite constantly surveying the pond and a long search of the abundant gorse bushes nearby, nothing even resembling a dragonfly could be found.
I managed a token shot of a common-blue damsel as the first photographed of the year, and stumbled upon a tiny field vole which allowed us to get close enough for a couple of snaps too, otherwise a pretty much wasted journey. 




But it's not all bad news, far from it in fact. Today the sun shone brightly, I was chomping at the bit to get out again after hearing the forecast for Thursday and beyond was once again rain, rain and more rain.
It was a case of now or never, so out came the trusty chariot and off I went. I decided to stop off at Clockburn Lake outlet stream in order to try and find a male Banded Demoiselle, and this fine specimen duly obliged, giving me best ever photos and a fantastic start to the days dragonhunting.

Banded Demoiselle (male)
What a little beauty!
My best shot yet of this cracking damselfly
note the prussian blue wing patches on this individual are smaller
than normal, usually extending almost to the wing tip and covering the
entire width of the wing.

On arriving at Stargate I found Michael E. who provided me with some excellent photos last year, he'd set up a perching stick for the Broad-bodied Chasers with camera at the ready so I waited with him. A beaut of a male was circumnavigating the pond at good speed, I managed a couple of flight shots before he perched on the provided stick to give me my first ever decent photos of a male Broad-bodied Chaser. The opportunities kept coming and the photos got better. Steve and Tilly turned up, and Rob who is new to dragonflies but likes the photographic challenge.
Two male BBCs were present, often skirmishing, with just one female seen briefly when accosted by one of the males, forming a mating wheel low over the pond. A four-spotted chaser also made occasional appearances (cue more skirmishes) and azure and large-red damsels were noted, as well as a weasel poking its nose out of a tussock behind us though I couldn't get a photo.

Broad-bodied Chaser (male)
My very first photo
And again as he passed by
Poor quality photo but shows all the ID features
And my first perched picture
courtesy of Michael's improvised stick
Change of angle for a profile shot
And again for a rear view
This four-spotted chaser also used the perching stick
Getting closer
I followed this one I saw land amongst the trees behind us
for a rare front-on shot. The glare disguises the powder blue abdomen
making it look like a female, a trick of the light.
Eventually this one landed right in front of me giving an
absolute belter of a shot
Same insect, same perch, different angle, another cracker.

So thanks to Michael and his improvised perching stick my photos of the number one target, the male broad-bodied Chaser got better and better 'til in the end the final shots of the individual which landed right at my feet far exceeded my expectations. After this I put the camera away and just took in the beauty of the insect through my bins. The pulsating abdomen, the clockwork head movements checking out anything flying past, the fights and the patrols, all feeding my growing fascination with these summer marvels. 
And a very successful mission, with two of my early season targets secured in one session. Like I said before, the weather might be affecting the quantity of early season dragons, but the quality so far is superb.

Next target, Black-tailed Skimmer . . . . .

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