Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Last Tango in Thornley

Taking the kids to school this morning it was like a bright, crisp autumnal day, but a couple of hours later with hardly a breeze or cloud in the sky it was back to summer.
So after trimming the overgrown ivy from the side of the house and a trip to Blaydon tip, I was dropped off at Thornley around mid-day for a look on the pond.

In bright sunshine I reckon around 20 common darters were present, with half a dozen pairs mating or ovipositing, and a couple of male southern hawkers were great entertainment, clashing regularly as they searched the margins (unsuccessfully) for females.

A few snaps of common darters, the southern hawkers were
far too active to pose for the camera unfortunately.
But it was the presence of some damselflies which I found most surprising, a copulating pair of azures and a single male skimming the pond, but more unusually a Large Red male flitting among the emergent grasses. As the first damsel to emerge it's not often we see them (up north anyway) as late as September, though my latest ever sighting of the species (Sept 5th 2012) was also at this pond, so I'll try to get back on the 6th to see if he's still around.

record shot of the single male azure damsel, the copulating couple
were too distant for a photograph.  

Star of the show, probably the last red damsel in the borough
this year, kinda sad really :-( 
He seemed desperate for a final fling, engaging with male common darters every time one flew near his perch, but then I was pleased to see him tackle another damsel and disappear into the cover, but when I got my bins on him I found him desperately trying to manoeuvre his claspers into position behind the neck of his startled partner, without success though as he was trying it on with another species, an emerald, and double misfortune as it appeared to be a male :-O
By the time I'd sussed what was going on it was too late to photograph the event, as the 'victim' made escape and was never seen again (hardly surprising).  

The likelihood is that he is the last of his species for this year here so will no doubt try it on with anything red or damsel-like for the next few days of sunshine out of sheer desperation, until he cashes in his chips for the last time. I hope he finds a mate but the odds are against it, but I'll try to get back for another look as long as the sun shines.


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