Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Big Red

Sunny if a bit on the blustery side this morning, but with conditions due to deteriorate around lunchtime I took a chance on visiting Thornley Woods Pond, hoping to connect with a long overdue Large Red damsel at the fourth time of asking.

On arrival all was quiet. Only a chiffchaff rose above the sound of the wind rushing through the trees and the fizmer emitting from the erumpent grasses on the pond (Packham eat your heart out). A good survey of the pond and margins (with the new Papilios) revealed very little, but I did a double-take as the field of grasses mid-pond suddenly revealed a damsel hanging on to a single blade as I scanned to and fro. I could see straight away it wasn't a large red however, guessed it would be an azure as I've never seen a common blue here and sure enough the photo revealed a female azure :

Female Azure damsel confirmed by photograph
First damsel at TWP this year
But it was while I was lining up this shot a red Damselfly slowly flitted right past me. I could see it was a male Large Red (hurrah!) but rather than settle it fluttered weakly away from the pond and along the sheltered path. I followed but lost it as it rose higher into the windswept trees and that was that. Gutted.
But where there's one there must be more. It looked like a fairly mature individual with deep red colouring so must have been out a while. I checked the other end of the pond, where a clump of mixed vegetation revealed another large red, and this one was going nowhere :  

First Large Red damsel photographed of 2015 -
Female showing immature typica form colouring

Love those eyes, like miniature planets

From above you can see she has a deformed wing,
caused by an obstruction during emergence. 

In close-up it's a malformed hindwing, should still be able to fly,
but the wings were still a touch milky and she made no attempt
to fly while I was there.
After filling my boots with that one I looked further round the pond but no sign of any others. Working my way back around, the female I'd just photographed was now hiding under a leaf, no wonder you can't spot them in crap weather, had I not known she was there I would have walked straight past. The books say you will never see a Dragonfly walking, I'd watched this one walk from a leaf to a stringier plant, back again and now she'd walked round the underside, so unusual it might be, but not unheard of.

I got back to the point where I'd seen the flying red earlier, and finished scanning the margins, where I found a couple of exuvia, long since emerged.

One of two exuvia

Mission accomplished, Large Red damselfly in the bag, so now five dragons on the wing in Gateshead, though this was only my second. A bit of catching up to do ;-)    


  1. Weather could be improving later next week Alan, should bring out a few more Odonata your way :-)

    1. Hope you're right Warren, our dragonfly season is short enough up north without a delayed spring, hardly anything been reported yet :-(

  2. Warren was the guy i hooked up with in Kent. A keen birder and Dragoner i bumped into him close by his patch where i had gone to seek out my first Beautiful Damoiselle. I would never have found very much at all without his help and he spent a good 3 hours with me showing me around most of his patch but he was determined i was going to get that first which i eventually did. By way of thanking him i picked him up and took him to Westbere yesterday, it had to be then as he was away to Wales on Sat, and he got his first Scarce Chaser as did i. A good couple of days in his company and some great craic.

    1. Aye, I saw your tweets on twitter so realised he was one and the same, Look forward to seeing all your photos on your blog when you get back :-)

  3. Just posted single Beautiful Dem pic on blog. Not done any macro photography for 6 months or so hence i'm a bit disappointed with my images from the last couple of days. Put that right next week hopefully, practice makes perfect supposedly. The weather hasn't been great down here this week.
    Going back to your LR Damsel. No wonder they head under leaves in bad weather. Imagine what "normal" raindrops must feel like to a Damsel never mind the huge ones in a heavy downpour !!