A search of the roadside veg produced a blank, and patrolling the road proved fruitless. Nothing around the car park either so I trudged back to the pony gate and listened to the sounds of the warblers. Chiff, willow, blackcap, garden and whitethroat a constant accompaniment. The occasional yaffling green woody never came any closer and just a couple of buzzards joined the mixed bag of hirundines above the fields.
I spent my time photographing a caterpillar and some spiders and was all set to pack in early when the familiar reflective fluttering of damsel wings alighted from the grasses beside my feet. How did I miss that? Over the fence it went and landed on a dead stalk about five feet beyond, but in clear view.
A record shot then a closer look revealed the expected Azure damselfly, a teneral female. Excellent!
|Azure damsel, teneral female, first shot of 2016.|
She wasn't going anywhere, though blowing about in the occasional stiff breeze like a tiny flag on a flagpole, so I manouvered around to get a few angles, but even full zoom wasn't picking her up properly so I doubled the magnification (to 52x) and resting on the fence to get as steady as possible I managed a few identifiable shots.
|Max zoom x2 shows all the features of a future green-form female|
Another fluttering damsel caught my eye, and this one landed over the fence again but a tad closer. Expecting another azure I got the Papilios on it and focussed on the dull tail-light of a teneral blue-tailed damselfly male. Double excellent! Wasn't expecting to get one of those here so soon :-)
|Damsel number 2, and look at the tail-light - a Blue-tailed :-)|
|Zoomed in for a few closer shots, no doubt this is a male.|
They were the only two damsels I saw, but not complaining, the pressures off for a couple of weeks before the first Chasers should appear (though one has already been seen emerging at Beamish). Meantime I'll get out when I can in the valley and hopefully improve on the first few images. Only common blue of the early damsels to get, but they usually appear a couple of weeks later, and were in short supply last year throughout the season.