Thursday, 30 June 2016

48 Hours Later . . . .

Returning to Thornley Woods Pond this morning I really didn't expect to see the same two Southern Hawkers in exactly the same place as I left them 2 days ago :-O

The male just off the boardwalk, as I had left him, just above his exuvia

The female at the north end, wings still folded, surely perished?

I feared the worst, they must have perished, so decided to collect them as specimens to study at close-up. Tricky, as the male near the front of the boardwalk was too far out to reach, so I had the bright idea of using my telescopic cleg fly swatter to remove him from his stem and then fish him out of the pond with it.
But as soon as I touched the stem he began to move, then started to vibrate his wings, not dead after all, so I gently removed his exuvia instead and packed it up for later.

Still alive, so I used the zoom I didn't have the other day 

Interesting angles as he began his climb

A steady ascent

His exuvia I managed to collect after he'd climbed clear of it.

But this means it's been 48 hours since he emerged at least. When I left on Tuesday the weather closed in not long afterwards, and it was belting down with rain for most of yesterday, meaning conditions have cooled right down since he emerged and hasn't been able to make his maiden flight.

The second individual was also in the exact same spot, but clearly a female as I moved round and got my bins on her. I was thinking she had definitely perished, her wings were still closed across her back. But once again as soon as I touched the surrounding grass her wings rose perpendicular to her body and snapped into place as if a button had been pressed. Incredible.

The same female as top pic, wings now held at right angles to the body

In clear view now as I'd cleared away the grasses thinking she had expired

Allowing some even closer shots

Conditions today weren't  that much better than Tuesday. Overcast with dark clouds, and every now and again a bit of warmth as the sun peeped through  gap, but an overriding chill was the order of the day so I fear they may not survive another night as they must be in a severely weakened state; they couldn't possibly have fed since they escaped their final instar.

Scanning the whole of the pond I spotted  another hawker, then another, and another, until I had SIX emerged Southern Hawkers mapped out around the margins, plus another three unattended exuvia in the far grasses. This is by far the most I've ever seen here at any one time, but whether all (or indeed any) make it to a mature adult state appears to be in the hands of fate.

One of a further four emergences discovered, distant in the far grasses

This female I spotted not far from the first male

The pond today, the male is at this end of the main clump halfway along the boardwalk

From this angle you can see how much the emergent grass is taking over.
I stayed on site for as long as I could but little progress was made by any of the emerging hawkers, I filled my boots with a variety of photos from all angles as number one inched his way up the grass stems and occasionally was buffeted into a new position by the wind. Great for photos but not too good for the dragons.

Blown into the open by a sudden gust, I couldn't resist a last burst of photos

A nice shot to finish, probably my favourite 

Another visit tomorrow if I can to find out how many of the six have made their escape. At the moment I'm not too hopeful :-/ 


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