Monday, 13 August 2012

Back on Familiar Territory

Thought I'd try a bit of reverse psychology on the weather as usually on a sunny day it clouds over just after I arrive on site. Friday was overcast so I trekked up to Thornley Woods Pond hoping this time it would turn sunny just after I arrived, and believe it or not, it worked!

My main reason for visiting this pond (as always) is to observe and photograph Southern Hawker dragonflies, such a small pond holds a good population of these brilliant creatures and over the years I've had most of my best and closest encounters here, as well as giving me a good understanding of the species through witnessing emergence, territorial behaviour, the mating ritual and oviposition.

Today an emerging female was almost fully developed when I arrived, and I managed to photograph her from various angles before witnessing her maiden flight, a relief to me as she was in the area where ignorant dog owners usually let their mutts wreak havoc, resulting previously in drownings of hawkers not yet fully emerged.

Another female visited a couple of times to oviposit but was unusually flighty, they're often very approachable when egg-laying, resulting in some cracking photos, but unfortunately this one wasn't so I've nothing to show for the encounter, nor did I photograph the only other hawker which came over, a feeding male which circled the clearing a couple of times at height before disappearing.    

One piece of behaviour I did manage to photograph however (though not particularly successfully thanks to the distance involved) was the sentinel stance of ovipositing damselflies. The two species which breed on this pond (large red and azure) were both present today in decent numbers, and a few tandem pairs were busy about the pond, and though they weren't laying nearside I got a few distant snaps just to record the behaviour.

I also spotted a pair of damsel wings on the water surface a way out, no sign of the rest of the perished unfortunate, as it was now lunch for a pack of young sticklebacks.

Finally I was able to get right close-up to a couple of large red damsels, and was able to take some (if I do say so myself) cracking macro shots including a couple from almost point blank range.

Really pleased with those shots so all in all a worthwhile session at probably my favourite dragonfly pond.
A bit of a worry though is that there's been a lot of tree felling in the woods this year as the non-native conifers are being eradicated, and now the woods as a whole are a lot more open and the pond itself is no longer surrounded by tall conifers with the result that a lot more sunlight is getting through. How this will affect things in the future I don't know. I've been watching this pond for the last five years and like I say only 3 species breed in it (Southern Hawker, Large Red damsel and Azure damsel) so whether the change in aspect will be detrimental to those or indeed may encourage others to colonise it I suppose only time will tell. I'll certainly be watching and taking note anyway.


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