Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Jewels of the Derwent

The appearance of the sun took me by surprise today so after cutting the back lawn I went on a hunt along the river for that jewel of a dragonfly the Banded Demoiselle.
First stop was Clockburn Lake outlet stream (a common tern was fishing on the lake) but a good search revealed none to be had, though the area was teeming with Azure and Blue-tailed damsels, and a few Large Reds.

Plenty of Blue-tailed Damsels on show at Clockburn Lake
A mating wheel (top) and a cracking rufescens female (bottom)

I think the flooding of the last few years has changed the river a bit here, I'm sure it's not as slow-moving as it use to be and consequently I haven't had a demoiselle here for the last two years, which is a shame because it was always the best place to photograph them. But I'll keep trying.

So I moved on to the banker site of Hagghill, but as I was on foot decided to try and view it from the east bank of the river rather than the west as I do when I'm on my bike.
I crossed the new Butterfly Bridge, scanning the riverbanks either side, but despite glorious sunshine only Mayflies were dancing about on the water.

I trekked along the riverside meadows, and despite a few diversions I eventually got to a point opposite Hagghill, though the viewing wasn't as good as I'd hoped as the vegetation was extremely tall and lush, blocking the view of the nearside just about altogether, and hidden drops along the steep-sided riverbank prevented me risking getting too close, but I took up the best vantage point I could and it didn't take long for the demoiselles to appear.
First a female, then a male, a pair of males skirmishing, a tandem pair assaulted by another male, more skirmishing and another female. I reckoned 6-8 males and 3 females in the area but as it wasn't the best of views so most likely a few more. I also spied a Dragonfly briefly passing a gap in the vegetation, but too quick to make an ID, another puzzler.

Getting a photograph of the demoiselles proved nigh on impossible. For once I could have done with a few clouds to keep them grounded but the early afternoon sunshine meant long bouts of skirmishing as the two males spiralled upwards then a quick drop to cover, but all too brief a stay as the next skirmish soon started.
Great to watch but not much fun for the Dragonhunter, armed with only the much maligned Krappy Kodak.
I reeled off about 20 shots in my stay, but none were in proper focus, and these were the best of a shite bunch.

Banded Demoiselle (male)
Even in shite photos, still a beauty.
Getting a shot of a female was even worse, look at the state of this :-(

Can't expect anything better at the moment I'm afraid, feeling a bit lost without my Lumix. And just to make matters worse I realised I'd lost my water bottle somewhere along the journey (and boy did I need a drink in the heat today) but on the plus side I did photograph this Goosander family on the river, and a pair of Blackcaps showed well in trees on the opposite bank, though I didn't see any youngsters with them.

Mammy Goosander and 6 chicks

 The trek home was a bit of a plod without water, but never mind, mission accomplished. Banded Demoiselle in the bag  :-)   



  1. Trust K.K. to let you down. He did the same eventually at the Toon.
    Funnily enough i had the same parchede experience at Druridge. While bent douible photoing a butterfly on the small wooden bridge on the approach to the hides there my flask which i had filled with ice cube filled cool clear water, which was mainly for the drive home, slid out of the elasticated holder, down my back, bopped me on the head and fell onto the bridge then bounced into the metre deep ditch lined with lush green nettles. I've passed over it 3 times since but there's no way i'm trying to reach down there at the minute. I might rescue it in the winter.
    I had a very dry drive and end to the day.

  2. Aye, unlucky Johnny, good news is that Rob (Gatesheadandbeyond) found my water bottle yesterday. I've kicked the Krappy Kodak into touch as it's nigh on useless, the incredibly slow-focussing meant I missed loads of better shots of the demoiselles so I all but kicked it in the river. Plan C will be in operation on my next outing :-O