Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A Black Tale . . . . er Tail

A second try for the elusive Kibblesworth Black-tailed Skimmer proved to be a lot more successful than the first.
Warm though still overcast conditions brought out hundreds of damselflies and a few common darters before our long vigil at the favoured end of the pond for the skimmers proved just as barren as Sunday, but after walking the circumference of the pond things started to look up as a pair of skirmishing Four-spotted Chasers gave a limited photographic opportunity, then the pair mobbed a larger dragonfly behind us which I failed to ID from the briefest of views as I lost it in the trees, but an educated guess would most likely be an Emperor.

Common Blue damsels
about to do what comes naturally

Freshly emerged Common darter

Four-spotted chaser
good to see plenty about today after drawing a blank on Sunday 

More Four-spot Chasers appeared as we got back to the skimmer end then a similarly sized dragon approached swiftly low over the water, as it passed by it appeared much brighter yellow than the four-spots, thinner too, and its jizz as it flew low over the water had us all calling 'skimmer' but it disappeared almost as quickly as it had arrived so we could not say whether it was a female or immature male.

And that was it for a while, we had been teased into prolonging our stay, and just as well, brief pockets of sunshine brought out 10-12 four-spotted chasers on the secondary pond, then an imperious male Emperor zipped in for a sortie across the pond, first sighting of the year.
But even he was outdone when a low-flying blue dragon made an entrance in the channel seperating the island from the shore, Black-tailed Skimmer, male, magic!
We tracked him but he wouldn't settle for long. This species known for ground-perching rather than on plant stems like most others, but our only views for a while were brief and distant, before once again he disappeared as did the sun.
By now we were all at the opposite side of the pond to where we'd began and as I'd left my backpack by the channel I walked back around to collect it, and couldn't believe my eyes when a low-flying pair of dragons in the mating wheel I looked at (expecting to be four-spots) were actually a black-tailed skimmer pair! and they landed at the edge of the island giving us fantastic prolonged views, though a bit too far for sharp photos I can't complain as I reeled off shot after shot, getting a few half-decent ones (below)

My first ever photo of Black-tailed Skimmer
male and female together. how lucky is that?
Business done, the couple stop for a breather, the powder blue male
looking like a thin broad-bodied chaser, the female yellow and black.
And finally the male on his own, female gone off
to deposit some eggs


So there it is, my Number One Gateshead target for the year in the bag, not only that but both male and female photographed, and even in the same photo! More than I could have ever wished for so what a fantastic dragonhunting session. Mission accomplished!                 

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