Wednesday, 13 August 2014

NightHawkers and the NightCrawler . . .

After a rowdy day with the kids an evening visit to Far Pasture seemed just the tonic as the sun was still shining brightly, though the wind was just as gusty as it has been the last few days.

A female Southern Hawker was spotted by the sawmill gate no sooner had I emerged from the gloom of the steep tree-lined access road, and three well-ripe female common darters lined up along the roadside fence.

My first stop was the roadside ditch, but the low-strung sun made viewing difficult, and mostly in shadow now, there was nothing to see. But a Southern Hawker (m) zipped head-height along the road and settled in the trees opposite, but not for long and was soon up again before I could ready the camera. He did the same again and settled for a third time as he made his way along the line of trees, long enough this time to rattle off a few pics, but was up again before I could get close enough for a good one.

Southern Hawker (male)
only shot I managed which was remotely in focus from his
all too brief stay.
 A roving band of long-tailed tits working their way through the same trees didn't help matters and the hawker soon disappeared, though the tits were quite entertaining for a while.

A quick look on the pond revealed nothing at all, but coming back along the path I was surprised to see this creature ambling along in front of me :

At first glance I thought this was a type of hawker larvae . . . 

. . . but a closer look revealed the massive pincers of a
Great Diving Beetle Larvae, a colossal size this is probably the
only predator in the pond more deadly than a dragonfly larvae.   
After that bizarre sighting (I'll have to do a bit of research to find out what it was doing on dry land) it was back to the ditch, and I spied a cracking female Southern Hawker resting in the sunshine on the fence opposite.

Couldn't believe my luck and got closer and closer as I reeled off shot after shot, eventually getting  another set of best ever photographs of a particular dragonfly, my second of the week following the migrant hawker a couple of days back :-)

Southern Hawker (female)
A rare treat getting one perched on a fence like this. Previously I've
only managed to photograph them while ovipositing.

The closer I got the more she looked ready to fly,
abdomen raised I could see she was a bit nervy. 

But still moved in for the killer photo.

And in close-up

There it is at the correct angle, my best ever shot of a
female Southern Hawker, and with the Krappy Kodak as well :-)
A male migrant hawker was foraging further along the road but was difficult even to get the ID never mind a photo.
But another cracking little session, Far Pasture seems to be my lucky site at the moment. :-)

Some other Odonata news I've never bothered to post over the last week :

Aug 7th - Gibside
Emerald Damsel x 8, Common Darter x 1 - Walled Garden Pond
Common Darter x 4 - Orangery/Hollow Walk
Emerald Damsel x 40+, Azure Damsel c20, Southern Hawker (m) - Lily Pond
Migrant Hawker (m) x 2 - Top of Hollow Walk (first of 2014)
Ruddy Darter (m) Common Darter (m) - Walled Garden Pond

Migrant Hawker also reported at Stargate (re George Simpson/Michael Eccles)

Aug 9th - Far Pasture
Access Road  : Migrant Hawker (m) x 1, Common Darter 4-6
Pond : Emerald Damsel x 1, Common Blue Damsel x 2

All sightings made in a few minutes early on, sun disappeared and saw nowt for the next forty five minutes as the sky was as black as a witch's minge.

Aug 10th - Shibdon Pond Hide
No dragons as the weather was rubbish (again), but just a bit of long-overdue crack and gossip.
I heard tell that one bloke (unknown) has had Golden-ringed Dragonfly at Gibside the last two summers :-O Will try and get some more information on this one. I did have a good look around for the species early in July after hearing previous rumours but found nothing, though of all the sites in Gateshead this looks the most promising for the species with open woodland streams running down to the river.
Also a negative report of Black Darters so far this year at Burdon Moor and Stargate.

Mid-August already :-O and the only real photographic target left for the season is female migrant hawker, hoping Shibdon Pond will deliver if we get a decent September :-)


  1. Anyone would be pleased with any of those last few images Alan. SUPER DOOPER Kodak, eh.

    1. I've had a bit of luck this week John, as long as the subject stays still for a good while I can get a decent shot eventually, otherwise its still cack I'm afraid.