Monday, 10 September 2012

Super Sunday

If the Olympics had their 'Super Saturdays', then yesterday was a DragonHunting Super Sunday when
our most dragonfly-friendly weekend in a long while at last gave me the chance to catch up with Black Darter, and arriving at Burdon moor around mid-day in glorious sunshine for once, the darter pond was already a veritable hive of activity.

Common Darters were most prominent, with several tandem pairs ovipositing and single males in abundance. Soon a couple of hawkers came on the scene, quickly ID'd as Common males as they hovered obligingly for the purpose. Emerald Damselflies were present too in small numbers as was the odd Ruddy Darter and eventually the top prize in the shape of a male Black Darter was spotted skimming the tussocks of emergent vegetation, then another and another. Marvellous! Last years pessimism about this species being all but extinct in the borough seems way off the mark as Steve also spots an ovipositing pair and I latch onto a single female which soon disappears from view, making this is the most I've ever seen in one spot.

The darter pond at Burdon Moor
Very little water visible due to thick emergent vegetation
just how the black darters like it !

But there was so much activity, so much testosterone-fuelled frenzy as males of all the species searched the thick vegetation for females. There were scuffles everywhere between random species, like a bar-room free-for-all, nothing was allowed to settle in the mid-day heat for more than a few seconds before being chased off, even the damsels were attacking their bigger rivals. Frustration set in on my part as it looked like I was never going to get the photo of the Black darter I craved, as time and time again my quarry would settle too far out or would be driven off before I had time to zoom in on it.
But eventually, with a lot of patience and wet feet I was finally rewarded with an individual close enough and long enough to rattle off a few decent pics, success at last, and a best yet photo of a male Black Darter.

Black Darter (male)
my best photo yet of the species, well worth getting wet for!

That done I could at long last relax a bit and began to estimate the numbers present with the following conclusions:

Emerald Damselfly 6+
Common Darter 20+ with many tandem pairs
Black Darter 6 (4m 2f) 1 pair ovipositing
Ruddy Darter 5 (4m 1f) pair mating
Common hawker 4-5 males

Steve then took me along to the site for Common Lizards he found a few weeks back, and on the way was just showing me where he had photographed the mating Southern Hawkers last week when a male of the species flew into view and posed for a cracking array of photographs, again best yet photos of the species for the DragonHunter. Marvel at these!

Southern Hawker male from all angles
Just marvel at his beauty!
And a close-up for good measure

And then to cap it off  the lizards were showing as well, this adult and three much smaller youngsters out in the sunshine.

Common Lizard
A patch first for the DragonHunter 

What a fantastic day then, and (bearing weather forecast in mind) if it be the last major dragonhunt of the year then what a fantastic way to end the season, cheers Steve! 


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