Tuesday, 9 October 2012

FRENZY!!!

The decent weather has kept up, though overnight frosts may have been detrimental to the late season dragonflies. At the weekend a family trip to Gibside gave sighting of 3 ovipositing pairs of common darter at the Orangery pond, and another pair formed a mating wheel down by the river, but sadly the usually busy Lily Pond was devoid of all dragons as the season nears its end.

Itching to pay another visit to the 'secret' pond, I got my chance today. And in the crisp sunshine there was again a frenzy of mating and ovipositing with at least 18 tandem pairs counted and many individual males.
I also think I discovered the reason for the 'explosion' of dragonflies which brought it to my attention in the first place (see previous post), as when an unattached female came on the scene she was immediately mobbed by the large gathering of single males which came at her from all directions, forcing her skywards with a trail of would-be suitors not far behind, like iron filings attracted to a magnet.
As the mating frenzy continued another female was grabbed by three males on the ground pond-side, one clasped her around the neck to form a tandem as the melee continued. The female didn't seem too pleased, she clung on to a large piece of wood chipping for dear life but her mate dragged both her and the wood into the air, low across the pond before she eventually ditched it, never seen that before!
No hawkers present today unfortunately (maybe the frost has taken its toll after all), the only one seen being a female migrant briefly at far pasture, where otherwise just 3 pairs of darters completed the dragon count.
Other creatures of note today were a couple of bank voles, a common toad and a weasel, which proved too flighty to photograph but I enjoyed watching its antics all the same.

Some photos of the day's events:

Common toad at Far Pasture
warty skin and slit-like pupils as opposed to the
smooth skin and circular pupils of the frog.

Bank Vole at Far Pasture
one of two present, and boy did they fight!

Common Darter at Far Pasture
sitting atop the car park barrier, one of my best shots of the year

Tandem Common Darters
One of 18 active pairs at one site, and another decent flight shot! 

A Love Triangle ?


And maybe time to reflect over the summer

Looks like it's going to turn cooler after tomorrow, disappointed with the lack of hawkers today I fear the dragonhunting season is all but over for 2012, but will keep taking any opportunities I might get to seek out the stragglers.

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