Thursday, 29 August 2013

A Black Day ? Not 'Arf !

Cragside today with target in mind of Black Darter which I've been successful with here the last two years. Of course I had to manipulate the family day out to my advantage, but with route planned the only obstacle was the rather overcast atmospherics.

So to Slipper Tarn, so called because it's the shape of a giant footprint, apparently made by the 'giant slipper yeti' who wore slippers because he didn't like walking on pine needles (it's all true I assure you).
Anyway, it's a cracking little acidic pool which gave me my first black darter for many a summer two years ago, but I didn't follow up the visit last year.
We had our picnic here so I could have time to do a search but it was still very dull, and best insect for a while was this Red Wasp, not uncommon but first I've photographed so a lifer of sorts.

Red Wasp
Note the reddish colouring on the abdomen
bit of a giveaway really 

On the tarn itself a couple of emerald damsels were about all I could see, but then a 'gettin' moment as I spied a basking black darter on one of the many light-coloured rocks in the area :

My first Black Darter of 2013

Happy with that and lunch over it was off to the play-park,where the kids settled and I left my better-half in charge as I nipped over to Nelly's Moss Lake which had turned up trumps around this time last year with a mating pair of S. danae and a couple of singles.
But the cloudy skies meant it was never going to be easy and so it proved. A good scour produced just a couple of common darters and surprisingly I flushed a teneral darter of some sort, but it fluttered away and settled too far off track for me to seek out and identify.

Common darter at Nelly's Moss Lake
not what I was looking for but a nice enough specimen

Mid-afternoon and we retraced our steps back to the car park, once again passing Slipper Tarn, but this time it co-incided with the only meaningful sunny period of the day and the place was suddenly alive with dragonflies; two common hawkers, four common darters and no less than SEVEN male black darters :o most of which posed nicely for the camera as they basked on light surfaces like rocks and benches (and leaves).

Male Black darter at Slipper tarn - basking on rocks

or on leaves

token common darter here as well

Though this one on the bench was easiest to approach

Fantastic eyes, jet black

Superb little dragonfly, smallest of our darters.
So by far my most successful black darter hunt, though it's not easy to get good photographs as distance and the direction and amount of sunlight is git important when photographing a black subject like this (my excuse and I'm sticking to it) but happy enough with a few of my pics of what is a cracking little dragonfly.

And with Black Darter in the bag that's the last of this year's dragons I'm likely to see. Really need to get a female of this species though so that'll be my target back in Gateshead when I get the chance. They tend to keep well hidden during the peak period when most other dragons are active, often mating away from the pond in the morning and coming to lay their eggs late afternoon when chances of being 'molested' by other males are vastly reduced, as later in the day (being typical blokes) all thoughts of sexual conquests are replaced by the need for a kebab (or was that just me after a night on the town back in the eighties).

Good day though, just a few loose ends to tie up now before the season ends.


  1. some very nice arty shots there dragonhunter :) good day out by the looks of it, season nearly over already :( at least we've got some good dragonfly hunting to look forward to next year when we go for a few new ones around the country :0 we must twitch a few good ones :)

  2. Cheers Steven, hope for a good early summer next year like this one was and I could imagine a few 'lifers' could be on the cards :)

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Keith, it's a good place to photograph them as there are loads of places for them to settle, but believe me they weren't much more than silhouettes before photoshop intervened :)

  4. Some cracking examples of Black Darter. The ayes have it. (EYES)