Wait a minute I hear you say, didn't you get some photos the other week? Well yes I did, I had unbelievable close views of one eating a mayfly but the resulting photos were poor as the light was too strong, the insect didn't stand out well on the path, and others seen were quite distant.
And this has been the problem, I've had great views of the demoiselles and had great times watching them, but it's four years since I've seen one close enough to get a really decent photograph, so that was my target for the day, find a Banded Demoiselle and get a photo to do it justice.
Over the years I've seen them at many points along the river, but usually go to Hagg Hill as it's the banker spot, but due to the height from the river, not so good for photos. So today I decided to revisit other areas I'd seen them previously, which would involve a bit of a trek.
My aim was to start off at Clockburn Lake outlet stream and work my way back along the river towards home, and thought I may as well call in on Thornley Woods Pond first to look for signs of Southern Hawker emergence as it's just a short detour on the way.
I was greeted at the pond by a first ever sighting here of a Grey Wagtail, probably feeding on the good number of azure and large red damsels, tandems and individuals, but the first exuvia I noted was this one on the emergent grass :
|An exuvia pointing downwards, a diagnostic ID feature|
A scan of the far corner revealed a cluster of larger exuvia, the Southern Hawkers I'd been looking for :-) A group of four close together and one further afield either side of that group.
|Two of the four in close proximity and six altogether|
|Poor pic even for a record shot, but emergence proves successful breeding|
for Large Red damsels
I had no luck in locating any teneral or immature hawkers despite a thorough search and eventually moved on to Clockburn Lake for my target dragonhunt.
Immediately I realised I was going to have to be careful as some areas of the tracks were overrun with froglets.
|Froglets, thousands of them on the inner track meant I couldn't|
check it for damsels.
|A bit distant so a close-crop but nice to see at least three demoiselles on the river here as it's the first sightings|
for three years at the outlet stream. Happy with that :-)
Azure and blue-tailed damsels here too, including a teneral blue-tail, and a Kingfisher dashing across the lake was a first sighting for me here too, though I've often seen them close by on the river.
Another first when a Four-spotted chaser zipped along the shoreline, as brief as it was surprising.
|Teneral blue-tailed damsel by the lakeside signalling a|
second wave of emergence.
Across the viaduct, and though I was running short of time I wanted to visit the meadows below, as the slow-moving stretch of river here has held demoiselles in the past.
True to the form of the day I came across another male on one of the sporadic clumps of vegetation overhanging the river and filled my boots with another batch of photos :
|Looking out over the river|
|Managed to catch a bit of wing-flicking|
|This time got him just as he came in to land, marvel at those wings.|
|My favourite picture of this particular demoiselle as he switched to one of the outer leaves, so got him |
peering out over the open water.
Home a lot later than planned and I have to say though I got some very nice shots (by my standards) I'm not as chuffed as I could have been with the results. They always tend to look better in the viewfinder and today's offerings are a bit shaky as all are hand-held mostly at max zoom (I broke my monopod thrashing nettles with it earlier on, dozy mare) but I think these were my best efforts :
|A nice profile shot showing all his best features and those incredibly long legs|
|A closer crop of my final picture shows more wing detail and outstanding black eyes|
So still to nail the killer photo, but was a privilege to spend time in the company of these spectacular creatures, and an excuse to go back and try again (like I need one).