Saturday, 2 July 2016

Another Day, Another Drama . . .

Had to go into Newcassel on Friday morning for some 'stuff' so took my backpack loaded with bins, camera etc with the aim of hopping off the bus at Thornley on the way back for an update on the Hawker situation.
It had been raining fairly heavily in town, but business done the sun popped out, and by the time the bus arrived at my destination, it was warm and sunny as I made the short walk to the pond.
I was eager to see if the two Southern Hawkers which had emerged on Tuesday (but were still there on Thursday) had finally flown; well they were definitely gone, and no sign of them in the water so hopefully they finally made it away from the pond, indeed all six of those I spotted on Thursday were now gone.

In their place, I discovered, were a new batch. The first of these, a female, had been out a while, fully formed and vibrating her wings over the sunlit pond. She wasn't too far out so I quickly unpacked my camera and reeled off a shot, but before I could take another she was off, rising up into the trees behind me to find refuge away from the openness of the pond.

Lucky to get this one picture as before I could focus for a second shot (a matter of seconds) she was up and away 

I next spotted movement even closer, as a fresh soft-bodied hawker had emerged fully from its casing; superb.
I took a few snaps before realising the precarious position this one was in. The grass stem it had emerged from wasn't the thickest, and was bending right over with the added weight of the dragonfly. Though body only about two thirds inflated, the tip was only a couple of millimetres from the surface of the pond, and I noticed the wings were bent at an angle as their tips actually lay over the surface.
This wasn't good, she was easy prey for underwater and surface predators, and even if she survived her wings would stiffen up bent at right-angles and be useless. I had to do something and quick.

Looks to be hanging precariously, not the best spot for emergence.

As the wings pumped up they started to bend across the water surface

From this angle it doesn't look good, and the abdomen tip just clear of the water now too

My solution came in the form of a big stick/tree branch floating on the pond further along. I fished it out and lay it on the water surface next to the 'dragon stem', and gently eased it against said stem, pushing it to a more upright position and elevating the emerging hawker a couple of inches higher and away from a watery demise. The branch was heavy and would remain in place with the thick duckweed covering the surface, so bingo; the plan seemed to work :-)

I pushed this stick against the grass stem and levered it up away from the water

Now well clear she can hopefully develop unhindered

The wings still appear bent but the reflective light makes it look worse than it was, there was only slight deviation 

After the rescue act I scanned around, more movement and another emerging dragon just further out. At the far side of the pond, two more hawkers were fully out, and I watched as another nymph broke the surface and climbed a stem to begin the process, far too far away unfortunately.

Another fresh emerger slightly further away but in better position.

Another well established hawker at the nearside but further out made six for the day, then unbelievably, just as the heavens opened again, another movement close to my feet revealed a seventh emerging hawker, no more than 8 inches from the boardwalk :-O

Wow! Couldn't believe my luck, but also couldn't believe I hadn't seen it before now as it was
right next to my rescue efforts.  
I prayed for the rain to stop as I sheltered under the trees, and when it did some five minutes later, I returned to the spot where the new discovery was in unbelievable view and filled my proverbial boots with photos which I doubt I could better with the camera I have. What a stroke of luck :-)

The rain stopped and I returned for some proper macro shots

Moving around I could get shots from different angles with nothing obstructing my view, just needed a steady hand to avoid camera shake.

Gotta be happy with that little lot :-)

 My problem now was I had no idea of the time. I'd left home without my phone (which also acts as my timepiece) and I had to get back for school collection duties, so had a last scan of the pond and took final shots of the progress of my 'rescue dragon' before reluctantly heading off home. I could quite easily have stayed all day and got a time lapse record of the whole emergence. Never mind.

Slow, but making progress. A last pic before the off, just hope
my rescue efforts weren't in vain.

 So that's a possible 16 emerged Southern Hawkers since Tuesday, an excellent count. I've been critical of this pond over the last couple of years, last year in particular was very poor for sightings of mature hawkers, but if this week is anything to go by, later in the summer might see a big improvement. Definitely my best emergence photos, and a best ever count as well, so it's not all bad news hereabouts :-)



  1. It's been a while since I looked in on your blog, Alan. Pleased to see that you're keeping up the good work. That's a cracking read with a great set of photos. All the best.


    1. Cheers Mal, thanks for 'dropping in'. We haven't bumped into each other for a while so hope you are keeping well :-)