But after a disappointing (for me anyway) first leg of the trip, with not a dragon or damsel to be seen around the bogs, we had our afternoon snack back at the car park, and revitalised by a nice cup of earl grey we decided to tackle the track on the opposite side of the car park.
On breaking through the first bank of trees I could see this was much better golden-ring country, the path climbs parallel to a deep-sided narrow stream in a good clearing between the trees, disappearing at times beneath overhanging ferns, perfect! and with a good length of clearing too I was getting a tad optimistic.
|The afore-mentioned stream|
Suddenly a large dragonfly could be seen hawking further up the track. I got onto it with my bins as it approached, but nay, it turned out to be a common hawker male. Nevertheless a good dragon, my first of the year in fact so quite happy with that. I watched it foraging a while as the kids got impatient and we moved on through an upward-sloping dark and barren conifer wood, not knowing what to expect at the top of the bank as we hadn't been up this way previously.
A pleasant surprise as we entered a freshly mown clearing, flanked on one side by the pine forest and the other by a large swathe of 2 metre high bracken, over which another large dragonfly was skimming swiftly.
I knew straight away this was something different, I focussed on it coming towards me, at the speed and distance a very black-looking insect, even the wings appearing dark like smoked glass (an effect made by thick black veins in the wing I find out later) and as it suddenly reared upwards to gather in some prey the obvious bulging tip of an otherwise slim abdomen confirmed my rising hopes, a Golden-ringed Dragonfly!
I tracked it around the top of the bracken from my vantage point of a conveniently placed picnic table, (not easy in the increasingly blustery conditions), until it came overhead and started hunting high in the pines opposite, where I got my best view as it inspected the outer branches, hovering in fits and starts.
What a beauty, bright green eyes, and striking yellow and black armour running the length of it, my first golden-ringed since Dumfries and Galloway back in 1997, and I have no qualms at calling it as a male, the slim abdomen with obvious bulging tip noted earlier was enough to sex it (a female would have a relatively thicker abdomen making the bulge at the tip not so prominent) and there was certainly no sign of a protruding ovipositer in the overhead silhouette.
|Looking back at where I found the golden-ringed, follow|
the channel on the left of picture
Unfortunately no photographs to accompany the sighting, (too flighty, too distant) so here's one pilfered from the internet :
|Golden-ringed dragonfly male |
like the one I saw earlier
But what a great end to an afternoon out, I'm even starting to quite enjoy the school holidays! :)