Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Dragonflies came in two by two, hoorah!, hoorah! . . .

A whole week since I last did any dragon hunting, and I was itching to get up to Stargate to check it out for Broad-bodied Chasers (our most striking libellulidae) so despite a forecast which said the sun would disappear by lunchtime I took a chance and got the Odonatamobile out of the garage, pumped up the tyres and away I went.

First stop Clockburn Lake to look for banded demoiselle (our most striking damsel). Disappointingly none to see, though good numbers of  blue-tailed damsels were on the wing. Pity 'cos it's the best place along the river to photograph the demoiselles.
Didn't really have time to search the riverbank properly so continued my journey with the next checkpoint being the river at Hagghill, where the demoiselles appear each year, but being a raised point isn't the best for photos.
I wasn't disappointed; two males were skirmishing below as I peered over the fence. Magic! they truly are a bonny damsel, an absolute treat to watch these on my home patch. In between bouts of fighting the males perched up for brief periods, at least allowing me to get a few record shots, but mainly I just watched their fluttering antics, slow deliberate wingbeats, metallic Prussian blue/green bodies, great stuff :)

Banded demoiselle (male) - first of the year !

Not the best shots but considering the distance involved
 I was expecting a lot worse !! 

I took my leave with a long journey ahead still, wanting to spend as much time at Stargate before the weather turned unfavourable.
Still bright sunshine as I approached my destination though bouts of cloudiness were increasing, bringing gusty wind with it which was a worry, but as soon as I arrived at the pond-side, two powder blue male broad-bodied chasers were skirmishing in the margins, Gettin there!!
I made a fake perch in the hope of attracting them at some point but the open aspect of the pond meant the wind kept them flying while over the water today, but luckily I was able to follow them to their sheltered resting stations where I got most of my photographs over the next hour and a half. I never saw more than two so presume that was all present, and here's the best of my photos :

Broad-bodied Chaser (male)
First of the year at Stargate Ponds

The yellow 'side-lights' show up really well
in this profile shot

This one landed on the path briefly for a head-on view

Shot of the day, not obscured for once
Those dark wing patches are diagnostic among similar pale blue species.

Parting shot, nice profile view

Quite chuffed with a couple of those, the males in general aren't as approachable as the females so taken at maximum zoom from quite a distance they turned out quite sharp, probably due to the excellent sunshine (don't often say that). Beautiful insects these, making the nigh on two-hour round trip well worthwhile.
Four species of damsel on the wing here too, in good numbers, and it was obviously a big emergence day as I witnessed many a maiden flight by large numbers of tenerals all around the pond.

Many common blue and azure damsels today

. . . and blue-tails

best damsel shot of the day

blue-tail and large-red

Also plenty of these fellers around the pond margins . . 

. . .and plenty of this going on.

A mating wheel to finish.
Common blues with typical green female form

The only blot on my copybook today was that I didn't manage to photograph the two Four-spotted Chasers which were also present. They never ventured up my end of the pond and I discovered why they call them chasers as I chased them all over with out once getting close enough for a photo.

The excellent dragonfly pond at Stargate
(believe it or not there is a four-spotted chaser in the picture)

So a great day, and as it happens the forecasters got it wrong again, my gamble paid off as the sun shone nigh on continuously for my ninety minute stint, though unfortunately for Michael A. who arrived shortly before I set off home again it clouded over just as I left. A bit cooler for cycling though so I wasn't complaining. (selfish get that I am)

Mission accomplished, two great dragons added to my hunted list for 2013 :]


  1. Brilliant.
    I.m back on Sunday so looking forward to some sun and BBCs at Stargate. I'm heading out for my day out Dragoning in Kent soon and Scarce Chaser a big hopeful. Weather forecast aint the best tho'

  2. Good luck with that John, hope you strike lucky.