Thursday, 4 July 2013

Spotted and Spotted, spotted.

Taking advantage of the sunny morning (or so I thought) I trekked along to Gibside for a dragonfly safari, there being numerous small water-bodies to check out and I've been meaning to get up for ages. But a combination of skies clouding over and half the sites I tried being more or less dried up meant I only had a handful of azure damsels to show for my first hour on the estate.

But that all changed when I reached the Lily Pond as hundreds of damsels skirted the margins and flew back and forth as singles and in tandem. Large red, azure and common blue the only three species present but the actual numbers present more than made up for that.

The Lillies on the Lily Pond
You can't see them but this raft of lillies was covered in ovipositing pairs
of blue damsels

I targeted as many as I could with bins or camera in the hope of finding something a little rarer (determined to find a Variable Damsel in Gateshead somewhere!) but though it was impossible to check more than a fraction of those present I still managed to bag a few variations from the norm.

This azure damsel has two black bands where a solid black square
would normally be

This common damsel has larger black areas than normal
and a strange flattened mark on s2 rather than a mushroom 

The female azure in this photo was more yellow than green.

Then jackpot time as a four-spotted chaser winged its way over the pond followed by a second and a third, a cue for much skirmishing in the now bright sunshine after a sharp short downpour cleared the atmosphere. A Southern Hawker also made a brief appearance, pale, but so short a sighting I couldn't even sex it after I'd noted the thorax pattern to determine the species.
And eventually a photo opportunity arose for a four-spot after a skirmish took a couple over my head and away from the pond, I tracked one back and luckily it landed in the open close by.

Four-spotted Chaser at Gibside Lily Pond
First seen on my patch and first photographed

A male by the way; the female is similarly coloured but has a
broader abdomen than the male. This might not be apparent so check
the anal appendages. The males are short and point outwards,
the females are long and more parallel or inward pointing.    

So at last a patch Four-spotted chaser in the bag. Still time to try another couple of sites, but even the octagonal pond held no more than a few damsels.
Biggest surprise however was of the avian variety, a spotted flycatcher,a very rare breeding bird in Gateshead these days and my first for some six or seven years in the borough so a good find. I alerted the Birdman who arrived with camera to get a few distant record shots. See his blog, todays entry, (link on the right).
Other photos which turned out ok were some close-ups of a large-red :

Good session in the end, last of my early targets in the bag. Musn't grumble (but I will).

1 comment:

  1. Canny day for you :) great finding the spotfly, ive been searching all of gateshead for one :) cheers