The damsels certainly were. A big emergence day with tenerals making their first flights by the bucketful, but they were taking a bit of a hammering from the sand martins and swallows in a non-stop feeding frenzy.
|Stargate Ponds - a gem of a dragonfly site|
|Lots of mating activity today - mainly by common blue and azure damsels|
|Common Blue Damselfly - tandem pair|
First photographed of 2014
|Azure damsels in sentinel position, ready for ovipositing|
|Another azure pair in egg-laying action.|
First time I've ever captured a mating pair, the female is
of the typica form, very similar in colour to the male.
|Lots of emergence today - unsure of the species here; on the left is|
an empty larval casing (exuvia), but on the right is actually a larva
I found climbing up the stalk to emerge. Another first.
|Female blue-tailed damsel|
immature of the rufescens form
|Mature female blue-tailed damsel of the infuscans form.|
At rest here but when I first spotted her she was ovipositing, alone as
this species does.
I tried in vain to get a photo but she was non-stop so it wasn't an easy task.
|Male Four-spotted Chaser - striking markings on the wings|
|Best shot I could get of the ovipositing female, but yet another first|
for my collection.
I have to say the Four-spots are the little brown jobs of the odonata world, but (like their avian counterparts) get a good prolonged view of one and you find they really can be a bonny dragonfly. Obviously the older they get the duller they become, but in prime condition like the few I saw today, (much like the humble house sparrow) their colours form superbly contrasted patterns. And the dark marks on the wing nodes of the perched males (the actual four-spots) showed beautifully.
Then at last a bright yellow female Broad-bodied Chaser skimmed across the surface of the pond at speed then began busying about in the margins. Time to make a fake perch I decided, and snapped a dead branch from a nearby tree.
But as I attempted to insert it in the shallows of the pond it was a bit awkward, so needing two hands I let go of my camera, forgetting the strap wasn't secured around my neck, and bingo, down into the pond it went. Disaster! :-O
Quickly fished out, drips shaken off, dried off, switched on, but dead . . . .
I could see by the way the viewfinder had immediately fogged up the water had got inside, so I removed the battery and memory card, opened all the compartments and laid it on my jacket to warm in the sun.
Typically, as I sat there at the pond-side, a Four-spotted Chaser perched itself close by, as if taunting me. Great views through my close-focussing bins, and would have been a cracking photo opportunity as it stayed for bloody ages, even when I moved about hoping to scare it off. But no, I could have got as close as I liked, in fact it didn't move at all until was mobbed by a couple of blue-tailed damsels.
Still sitting next to my stricken camera and pondering the consequences I took a closer look at the emergent grasses in the margins, and found it plastered with damsel exuvia, including one which was facing down rather than up, which meant it would be that of a blue-tailed damsel, being the only species to emerge this way. Another first for me, Oh if I only had my camera. :-(
There had been no further sightings of any Broad-bodied Chasers while I sat, so, deciding to call it a day, I packed my poorly camera away and took a look at the sheltered pond on the way out. Lo and behold, the female Broad-bodied was here too, eventually settling at the far side.
I made note of where she was and moved around the outside of the surrounding trees, then through a gap back to the pond close to where I hoped she wasn't anymore. But my luck was out. She remained perched on the low outer-branch of a tree offering a bloody good photo opportunity for someone with a nice, dry, fully-functioning camera, which unfortunately today was no longer me. :-(
I watched her for a short while before heading off, and promised her in true Arnie style, "I'll be back."
I managed to upload todays photos by putting the memory card in my old Kodak camera, which for any other purpose is truly shite (doesn't even have a macro function.)
The advice offered via t'internet is let the camera dry out thoroughly for a couple of days before replacing the battery and trying it out and there's a good chance it will be ok. But on the downside they also say on no account switch it on before it dries out as it might truly fry the electrics, unfortunately the first thing I did after I fished it out and shook the water off was switch it on to see if it was still working :-O (Well you would, wouldn't you, it's just instinctive?)
Only time will tell . . . . . . . .