Friday, 8 May 2015

Up and Away . . .

It was on 8th May last year I found my first damsel of 2014, a large red, freshly emerged at Thornley Woods Pond. This spring hasn't been anywhere near as mild as last, but dragons have been appearing not too far south in Yorkshire for the last three weeks, so with the sun shining this morning I took opportunity to take my first proper look of the season.

Thornley Woods Pond this time was devoid of dragons. A thorough search of the margins bore no fruit, and to be honest it's not looking too healthy these days. There's a tree now growing in the middle of the pond, and the emergent grasses are spreading rapidly, reducing the open water by at least a third now.
The water itself was clear but tinged brown, like a cup of tea without milk. The bottom of the pond is obscured with decaying leaves and a thick bed of unhealthy-looking underwater vegetation seems to be strangling the life out of it.
There wasn't much life in there at all so it was a relief when I spied a pair of newts, the male seemed to be displaying to the female.

On to Far Pasture and a bright and breezy day didn't offer any signs of dragons either. I searched the roadside vegetation all the way along to the car park. Nothing doing, but a few butterflies around so I decided to test out the macro, just on auto to see how it fared in a panic situation when I don't have time to play about with the settings :

A pair of St. Marks flies (one of many)
doing what they always seem to do

Hoverfly ssp.

Orange-tip female

There's an orange-tip male on this photo, beautifully disguised

Here he is closer up

Wingtips seemed to glow as he opened his wings ever so slightly

After a quick visit to the pond I decided to call it a day and ambled back up the road to the gate (where I usually do a bit of sky-watching to see what flies in or past), but my attention was grabbed by a long-winged fluttering insect catching the sun as it danced past me, either a lacewing or a damsel I thought, and followed it back along the road hoping it would land in sight, which it duly did, just off the road at the base of the fence.
When close enough I could see it was a damselfly (yippee!), but what type I didn't know. I quickly took a record shot (in panic mode in case it flew off).

First damsel of the year, record shot
Can you tell what it is yet?

I then managed to get a bit closer and reeled off a few shots, though just couldn't get the right angle as it was facing away from me but stretched round and hoped the focus was good.

That's right, an azure damselfly, a teneral female to be exact.

Just couldn't get a good angle to shoot from 

It flew up again as I got too close but landed nearby. It was alert now and as I approached it again it went up and over the fence and beyond the hawthorn saplings. Gone for good this time.

She's showing the markings of a typica green-form when she matures.
Blue-forms tend to have gaps of colour between the black dorsal segments. 

Gettin though, first of the year. I hung around by the gate for half an hour hoping to catch another on a maiden flight but nothing doing I'm afraid. Never mind, we're up and running:-)

On the way up the road I snapped the beginnings of a bluebell patch :

And back at home I had a visit from the this feller :

Always nice to see a tree Sparrow in the garden

And this feller was guarding the nest under the eaves of next-doors house, a regular nesting spot.  

Don't know if its the same birds year after year but this
corner has been used by starlings as far back as I can remember

Can't wait to get out again and look for more damsels, but probably won't be 'til after the weekend now.            


  1. I've missed a few postings from bloggers for some reason so just reading yours now...Tuesday evening. Great to see you've had your first. I'm heading up to the Rising Sun tomorrow morning so keeping an eye out for a possible Large Red as this is a good site for them but ANY Damsel will do.

    1. Good luck with that John, I had another look yesterday but nothing to be found locally.