Tuesday, 4 June 2013

A Tern for the better . . .

After being traumatised by the sight of Kingfishers eating dragonfly larvae on Springwatch last night (eeek!) what better way to relax than do a bit of gardening today. . . .NOT!

The front garden is like the proverbial jungle at the moment. I don't dislike gardening that much but to be honest I've a lot of better things to do with me life than keep it perfect, and whereas the bloke next door has mowed his four times in the last fortnight (get a life man), this was the first cut this year for our front lawn.
But karma paid me back for my pains when sweaty and aching (too much information sorry) I heard a croaky screech up in the sky which woke me up as it suddenly registered as being a common tern, I looked up just in time to see it weave its way over the trees at the bottom of the road. Gettin! A garden lifer!

I finished about half one, and with the sun still beating down I had a quick cuppa (there's always time for a cuppa) and biked off to Clockburn Lake outlet stream with the target of Blue-tailed damsel in mind, as this is the best spot for them locally and in previous years they've been out by the end of May. The smell of wild garlic along the derwent walk track was really strong in the muggy heat of the day, loved it.
First look at the stream drew a blank. I tried the outer stream which to be honest is no longer a stream as the latest floods have damned it up so it no longer reaches the river. Loadsa tadpoles in it still though. I searched the riverbank for banded demoiselle but no surprise its a bit early still for those.
I next tried the inner stream and after a bit of searching finally found my first Blue-tailed Damsel of the season, a teneral male :

Teneral male blue-tailed damsel
Males all start off this colour whereas the
females have a few variations.

As usual that opened the floodgates and before long I had about a dozen individuals, mostly immature or teneral but finally a couple of mature males with the bright blue tail band. A cracking little damsel.

Looks like an immature male but is in fact a female, told by the
appendages at the rear and slight difference in segment markings 

Another teneral male

At last, a bright blue mature male

And another, the tail-band
doesn't half stand out in flight

So after I'd reeled off enough photos I went back and sat on the bridge while I had a drink of much needed water (really hot here with little breeze to cool down) and couldn't believe my luck when I got my eyes on a flying damsel which turned out to be a Large Red! Bonus. It perched too distant for photos from the bridge so I walked stealthily along the bankside and got a cracking snap.

First successfully hunted Large Red damsel of 2013
mature male

Turned out to be a great day, a garden lifer and now three of the Gateshead super-sixteen successfully photographed.



  1. Nice one:) managed to get bt dams at stargate today, no sign of bb chaser today :( but i think the cold breeze which was blowing across the pond might of put it off flying?

  2. Possibly. They are quite a wandering species the bbc especially the males. they'll hang about at a pond for a couple of days but if no female shows up they'll fly off elsewhere. Otherwise may well have been an immature cos I still think its a week or so early for them going off previous years. I'll prob leave it til next week before having a look. Have you tried Burdon Moor?

  3. Not yet, im not that keen on burdon moor for bb chasers because of the horses and bulls :0 the bb chaser at stargate must have just emerged as it was a weak flyer, it flew from the grass and straight to the trees, it looked like someone might of been taking some photos as there was a perch and a few muddy footprints at the waters edge the next day, so it might of been on the wing before i got there?

  4. I would have thought from what you describe that you saw the maiden flight of that particular individual. Haven't heard of any others reported. Like I say will leave it til next week and hope the sun keeps shining :)