Wednesday, 10 June 2015

More Chasers . . . and Another Surprise Ending

Glorious day so time for my weekly wander. Stargate beckoned with the promise of some photogenic Broad-bodied Chasers and a first Four-spot of the year.
In the event it was a bit of a disappointment, the small pond I had such success at last year was completely dry and looked like it had been for a while.
Water levels in the main pond were well down too, same story at a number of sites according to Rob, a desperate need for rain (never thought I'd say that).

A few Broad-bodieds did appear, a couple of males and a female but too few and far between. At last a Four-spot made an appearance, but as brief as it was distant. Plenty of damsels on show, but the main attractions weren't playing ball so we gave up and went to Far Pasture, hopefully Michael may have had better luck after we left.

Far Pasture was a different matter, though the water level on the Forbideen Pond had dropped considerably in a few days, with two corners dried up altogether and what was left no deeper than an inch or two.
But the Chasers were on form, one male overlooking his territory from a central perch which he returned to all afternoon. He repeatedly saw off other males, FIVE in total, probably the most I've seen at one site, and to have them all fighting at once was a sight to behold.
I couldn't say how many females were on show, there was never more than one at a time, but the dominant male was first to react every time one came along.
I got a few pics, but never got the chance for a real close-up despite a long and patient wait.

The dominant male

A pretender eyeing up his next meal
Closest I got
 And a couple of arty ones taken into the sun :

I took quite a few pictures of an ovipositing female, too distant to be worthwhile on their own but I put them in sequence to show her dipping action :

A good show from the damsels here too, lots of azures, a few each of blue-tailed and large red.

Azure damsels - male on sentinel duty as the female oviposits 

As she goes deeper he has to hang on to keep them afloat
Back at the gate I stopped to chat to Roly who was busy snapping a peacock butterfly, and found this blue-tailed damsel with withered wings :

A mature individual so just having one pair of decent wings
doesn't seem to have hampered feeding 
But it was while snapping this feller I looked up to talk to Roly and caught a glimpse of a large hawker-type dragonfly as it zipped past his Landrover, wings glistening in the sunshine. I leapt up and tracked it as it flew away from me along the road at head height, abdomen tinged blue and long wings still showing signs of teneral stage, indeed it's erratic flight confirmed it was pretty new, but I've no doubt it was an Emperor, and once it went over the top of the new hawthorns it was gone. I checked the main pond but no sign, and though I patrolled up and down the road a few times it never reappeared.
I've only ever seen one Emperor at Far Pasture before, way back in July 2006, though they are found just over the river at Gibside, the most likely origin of this one I would have thought.

Just time to watch a few more damsels, and a nice bit of gore with this immature azure catching and despatching a meal :

      Back at home an email from Shibdon George contained this cracking photograph of a maturing male Broad-bodied Chaser :

   Significant because it's quite possibly the first time one has been recorded at Shibdon Pond, one species doing really well in the borough, recorded at just about every site now. Nice one George.

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