Sunday, 14 July 2013

Mint Imperials . . .

The morning started well with a Little Egret at Shibdon, though flighty it did offer cracking views for a time in front of the hide.

Next up Kibblesworth Brickwork Pools, Gateshead's flagship dragonfly spot and boy did it live up to the billing today. My first visit of the summer in fact, primary targets being Black-tailed Skimmer (as it's the only site in the borough to hold them) and the fearsome Emperor Dragonfly, best site for them by far but they've proved very difficult to photograph in the past.

In the event it was a strange sort of session, the skimmers giving us the run-around and the Emperors posing beautifully for the camera.
First up the male, we followed one flying away from the pond and the Birdman spotted exactly where it landed. We cautiously approached, following the standard insect photography procedure of getting close enough for a shot, stepping forward and having another shot, step forward etc and seeing how close you can get. Well this feller refused to budge even with us right in his face, amazing considering I've never found this particular species to be at all obliging, and here I was studying every marking in close-up in an eye-to-eye confrontation. Unbelievable; best ever views and best ever photos :

The Emperor

Move round for another view

Hang about ? He isn't moving

May as well get closer!

Birdman can't believe his luck
And it wasn't long before we had another (somewhat gruesome) close encounter, this time with a female. Before today the last time I had even seen a female Emperor was 2008 :O but got on to one ovipositing soon after arrival for a first sighting in five years.
But it was while I was trying to pin down a black-tailed skimmer both myself and Birdman spied a large hawker rise up from the grass and attack another dragonfly. The grappling pair remained airborne long enough for us both to lock on to them and see it was a female Emperor carrying off a four-spotted chaser :o
She took her victim to ground and we spent the next few minutes watching her devour her meal from the head down. It was very graphic; the abdomen of the chaser still pulsated as he lost his head, and the crunches which accompanied every bite were clearly audible.
Again, we couldn't have been closer, and call it a morbid fascination if you will but it was an amazing scene to watch.



That's gotta hurt !

No words neccessary

She didn't spill a drop !

And a decent photo of the female Emperor for my collection

Bloodlust satisfied I went back to seeking out the Black-tailed Skimmer, and though it took some patience I eventually was able to reel off some record shots to accomplish my mission.

Black-tailed Skimmer (male) - proved to be the toughest opponent today

Might have got sharper shots if I'd had my camera
on the right setting.

And to finish I even got the added bonus of a lucky Common Hawker flight record shot, poor but recogniseable, another dragon not easy to photograph but I would hope to better this effort before the summer is out.

A summary of today's dragons at Kibblesworth :
Emperor (male and female), Black-tailed Skimmer (2 x males), Common Hawker (3 x male), Four-spotted Chaser (16+) Common Darter (numerous mature and teneral) and four species of damselfly.

A superb day at Kibblesworth. Now only 5 of the Gateshead 16 still to be photographed. Southern and Migrant Hawkers, Common, Ruddy and Black Darter.


  1. Amazing close ups of a Dragon you can hardly photograph never mind view. I was watching 4-spots interacting with Emperors last week at Banks Pond and thinking "you are chancing your arm there" as I've read that the E's will take smaller Dragons.
    I'm heading to Kibblesworth today (nothing to do with y post) and you've def. wet the appetite. Not had BT Skimmer yet this year.
    Called by the Forbidden Pond on Sat. after a cracking session at Bishop Middleham Quarry earlier in the day, but it was quiet with only a single 4 spot and Damsels but nice to find a new site. Thanks for that.
    Going back to Howdon Bloggers post from Scaleby Moss. I spotted this Damoiselle very briefly and John took a pic before it took off. Never thought anything of it being a Beautiful and it was nice to see your comment ID ing it as such. Just presumed it was a Banded but it proves you got to expect the unexpected.
    Thanks again.

  2. Cheers John, hope you've had a good day at KBP, as it's been stonking hot all day I take it as so but look fwd to reading your report. Hope you have as much good fortune as we did :)
    Shame there was nowt on ths forbidden pond, someone else reported 2 male BBC and an Emperor there at the weekend :O
    Re the demoiselle, glad to be of help. I've learned to scrutinise every photo I take in the hope of finding something unexpected (since finding a red-veined darter that way) but that one just caught my eye.

  3. Omg, thats what you call pay back :) lol. I could do with a bit colour on that face ;) lol

    1. Don't worry Steve, it was only the light reflecting up from your legs :)