Sunday, 15 May 2016

Maturing nicely . . .

Patches of sunshine all day in defiance of the cool and cloudy forecast so with chores out of the way I managed an hour or so at Far Pasture early afternoon on the lookout for damselflies.

A close encounter on the way with a doe roe deer; taking the track from the A694 to the Derwent Walk through High Horseclose woods, I heard a crashing through the undergrowth ahead, and turned a bend just as said deer came to a halt just up the path. She turned to face me as I stopped in my tracks, a distance of no more than 20 feet between us. The momentary hesitation was enough for me to take in the superb view of this cracking creature, before she turned tail and trotted off up the bank from whence she'd come.

Super view that, don't often get to be so close to them, so well pleased.

To Far Pasture; Richard the ringer tells me he'd netted a whole brood of long-tailed tits, 11 in all, must've been some sight too.

A slow start in the damsel hunt though, a teneral blue-tailed in much the same place as I'd seen the other day was the only sighting for a good while; then an immature male azure proved a bit flighty before I could pin him down for a record shot only, he was up again whenever I tried to close in so I left him to flutter into cover.

Immature male Azure, closest I could get
Not much else doing so I took a look at the chaser pond, nothing flying, no sign of emergence, just hundreds of tadpoles.
Running out of ideas I decided to check the area of re-growing reeds just inside the field which was good last year for sheltering damsels, though was a lot taller then. But bingo! That's where they were, a decent selection of  immatures in one small patch. I filled my boots with a bunch of photos, though only about 8 individuals in all there was a good selection of different types :

Imm female Azure (green form)

Rufescens form female Blue-tailed damsel
One of my favourites, shame I couldn't get any closer than a record shot

Another green form azure female

A much rarer blue-form female azure

Yet another green form female

A more obliging male azure

And finally another green form female

There isn't a great deal of deep ground cover yet so a bit difficult to find where the immature damsels are sheltering, but that was a good haul. Apart from the standard record shots I got a few bits of behaviour as well. Damsels in cover can be quite hard to find. They tend to hide on the underside of leaves and stems so unless the sun is shining through the leaf they can't be seen, and a bit like green woodpeckers, they will manoeuvre around the blind side of the leaf or stem to avoid detection :

Spot the damselfly

Thar she blows; a hiding female azure peeps out

For once I was almost able to get the eyes in focus

Looking a bit fierce from this angle

Caught this one having a snack.
The growing vegetation is a haven for all sorts of other insects too, so meals-a-plenty
 
The forecast for the coming week has us hidden under a bank of cloud for most of it. Time will tell but next time I'm out will probably involve a look at Clockburn Lake outlet stream, where the Blue-tailed damsels should be flying even in cool conditions, so would hope to get a few different forms as unlike most damsels they tend to stick to the waterways in immature form, and even start mating before gaining their full mature colours.

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