Thursday, 5 September 2013

Last Days of Summer - Part II

Back to yesterday, and with the action being so good at TW Pond I stayed longer than intended, (plus some fellow dragonwatchers turned up just as I was about to leave so the chat went on a bit too). But it really is a tremendous site for observing dragonfly behaviour, I've probably learned more about odonata (southern hawker in particular) through watching many aspects of the life cycle here than anywhere else, such an intimate little site.

But I digress, I now had a dilemma; should I continue with my planned route down to Clockburn Lake and Kite Hill for migrant hawkers, or should I just head straight for Far Pasture in the hope of pinning one down there? In the end I decided a longer time spent at one site was better than two mini-sessions at two sites, so headed to Far Pasture through Paddock Hill Woods 'til I reached the gate leading back on the A694 and for some reason decided that I would just walk down the main road rather than through the woods and along the derwent walk, something I hardly ever do . . . but so glad I did.

As I trudged along the tarmac path running parallel to the A694 something bright blue caught my eye on the ground. I looked back and did a double-take as I realised it was a southern hawker male lying head first on the path, tail in the air :O

I at first thought it must have been hit by a car and assumed it dead, but on closer inspection realised it was holding on to a twig, which I picked up and noted the hawker was still alive, though obviously stunned at the very least.
I'm thinking he must have been resting on that twig (while still attached to the tree) and it had snapped off during a sudden wind or turbulence caused by a passing lorry and smacked face down on the path before he could react.
Anyhow I carried him carefully to the next gate along the road which is further away from the traffic so I could sort him out.

Hawker and Twig, just as I found them

I wasn't sure how badly injured he was but took the opportunity to have a good look at him at close-up through my 10x magnifying loupe and got as close as I could with the camera too.

I didn't realise the extent of his injuries until I looked at the photos, noting at least superficial damage to his face, obvious damage to one eye, and head covered in dust, all probably happening during the collision with the tarmac path.

Nasty scrape to the face

Left eye sustained some damage

A light covering of dust particles 

He started becoming a bit more active, and he began to vibrate his wings like they do when they are warming up, so I carefully transferred him to a sturdy plant stem which he gripped firmly, and I continued to fill my boots (photographically speaking).




I eventually left him still gripping the stem, well away from danger, wings still revving up, and hoping he would soon take flight.

He may not survive but I suppose in a way it was lucky for both of us it was me who spotted him, he could easily have been trodden underfoot or run over by a bike on that stretch of narrow path, at least I'd given him a fighting chance. And what an opportunity for close-up photos, especially since I'd just been frustrated at TW Pond trying to photograph the same species. Fate works in funny ways :)

Footnote : When I eventually got home I realised I didn't have my loupe so (some five hours later) had to go back up to where I'd left the hawker. I retrieved my loupe out of the grass but the hawker was nowhere to be seen, so hopefully my good deed paid off. :) 

Phew! And I still hadn't reached Far Pasture yet! More to come on my big day out, final part tomorrow. . . . .dinner dinner dinner dinner batman!


  1. Well done Batman. At least you gave the guy some sort of chance. That was a painful looking face, ouch.
    Good to see all the activity at Thornley Pond despite the amount of possible disruption there.

    1. In reality John my thoughts were as follows; Great, a dead hawker, take it home and study it thoroughly. Oh! it's alive, can't kill it, get as many photos as I can before it recovers, go back tomorrow just in case it dies from its injuries.
      What a twat eh ? ;)

  2. Nice one dragonhunter, you saved the day ;) true hero ;) lol

  3. You were just being scientific.
    A scientific twat, that is.