Thursday, 11 June 2015

Demoiselle Heaven

A bit of opportunist Dragonhunting today. Had to go into Newcassel to drop some work off and as the bus route runs alongside the river Derwent I took my camera and bins with me and hopped off near Hagghill on the way back to look for Banded Demoiselles. (would have been rude not to on such a day as today).

In the event it was a stroke of genius. I first watched a Common Tern at close quarters fishing the river until it was successful with a good catch and carried it off probably to Shibdon Pond, then discovered a small colony of Sand Martins in the riverbank which I've never noted before, will have to revisit when I have more time, they were certainly busy today.

part of a newly founded sand martin colony on the derwent

token warbling wren shot

Just upstream I reached the Banded Demoiselle site and straightaway spotted a female traversing the river, then a male doing likewise. Gettin! Then a surprise as a male fluttered past my head carrying a large prey item, and landed on the side of the path to devour his meal. I had to stand guard as four cyclists rode past but was then able to watch from point blank range as he struggled with his sizeable meal.

What's that you're eating?

Still can't tell

Ah, a mayfly, plenty of meat on those.
What a stroke of luck that was, and even more so for a young lady who had just turned up to see a demoiselle, won't get a better view of one from that point, that's the first time I've seen one actually come up from the river there.

Another dragonfly enthusiast (and member of the Twitter brotherhood) turned up shortly afterwards and together we watched several males and females coming and going in glorious sunshine. I snapped away from up on high and have to be happy with the shots from the distance, in previous years I wouldn't have even attempted photos with the old point and press.

Male banded demoiselle - metallic blue and green, beautiful Prussian blue wingspot

female banded demoiselle - metallic green and green-tinged wings

another male posing nicely

what a beaut

one of nature's finest

occasionally they flick their wings open and I
managed to catch it doing so. 

lots of perching in good view today I reckon 6-8 males, 4-5 females, maybe more.  

Another Mayfly taking a hammering, this time from a female

Male and female together, a good comparison despite the technical let-down 

Female looking like she's hanging on for dear life

Probably the easiest one to focus without all the clutter

Extremely long legs compared to most other damselflies,
and once again I did actually see one walking along a broad leaf

Finally the latest addition to my 'dragonflies having a poo' list
If anything the sun was too strong, the areas of light and shadow proved too much of a contrast but like I say I'm not complaining with the results considering the distance they were shot from, these are all very heavy crops.

I had my fill there and (never satisfied) decided to have a quick look at Clockburn Lake outlet stream in the off chance a demoiselle might be perched by the river for a closer photo opportunity. Unfortunately it wasn't the case, but many azures, a few large reds and surprisingly few blue-tails were on show, but with my time running out (had to get back for school run) I didn't bother getting the camera out, just watched a few of the damsels close-up with the papilios.

Great impromptu session though, stunning is an often overused word these days but the demoiselles truly are worthy of the description, absolutely stunning creatures. Days like this make you glad to be alive. Roll on the next session :-)


  1. The joys of a beautiful spring day and some odonata. AAAHHH.

  2. I hoping for a few of those Banded Dems to appear on my Pittswood Patch, lovley things :-)

  3. It doesn't get any better than Banded Demoiselles lads :-)