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 :
|Move round for another view|
|Hang about ? He isn't moving|
|May as well get closer!|
|Birdman can't believe his luck|
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.