My number one target was Black-tailed Skimmer, Gateshead's only site for the species, and one which I hadn't now seen in three years (some dragonhunter me huh?). I didn't get to Kibblesworth last year due to the weather being bad on my available days, and the year before I dipped on my only visit despite good weather.
So to Wednesday; skipped breakfast for an early start, and three buses later I alighted at Lamesley Road Bridge. Still a 20 minute walk to the Brickwork Pools but sunny so I stopped to look for Banded demoiselles over the bridge. A Kingfisher was a welcome sight, but he saw me first and was off with a flash of electric blue. A couple of minutes later he returned but seeing me still at the bridge he veered off over the fields and out of sight. No demoiselles.
The sun kept shining as I finally got to the ponds, though the entrance and walkway 'ponds' are all but dry so can't really be described as such. Half a dozen common darters lined the route, and my first spot at the actual ponds was a Four-spot.
The sunshine lasted around 20 minutes by which time I'd seen many common blue and blue-tailed damsels, a few emeralds, maybe half a dozen each of common darter and four-spot chaser, and two splendid males of my secondary target, the Emperor Dragonfly.
Love the way they patrol the open water at a fairly leisurely cruising speed like they own the place, then suddenly accelerate into action when a meal or a rival closes in, marvellous.
But no sign of any Black-tailed Skimmer yet, though still early, but the disappearance of the sun for the next hour didn't help matters.
I had a good walk around the perimeter of the ponds, disturbed a few teneral common darters, added azure damsel to the day list but that was about it. The highlight of the overcast hour was a Garden Warbler showing very well down by the main pond, and the continuous calling of a Green Woodpecker close by but tantalisingly out of sight bar one glimpse.
The next spell of sunshine lasted about 25 minutes, in which time up to 15 Four-spots and the occasional Emperor entertained me, but still no Black-tailed Skimmers, and when the sun disappeared for a second time it was gone for good. Though I waited a good while and got caught in another shower, by 1.45 I'd had enough, even the dog walkers had seen sense not to turn out today, so I ambled back to Lamesley, hoping the distant blue skies would be overhead by the time I got to the bridge, and a last look for demoiselles.
In the event, it was, but the demoiselles were conspicuous by their absence. An abject failure, the Emperors were nice, but otherwise a crap waste of a day. By the time I got home I'd been out six and half hours for a total of forty five minutes decent dragonhunting, sometimes I wonder why I bother :-/
Not even a good selection of photos to show for it :
|imm fem common darter|
|the only four-spot to settle anywhere|
|rufescens-obsoleta form female blue-tail|
|teneral common darter fem, one of many new emergers on the day|
|common blue damsel imm fem. Note the diagnostic spur under s8 of the abdomen, the only blue|
damsel to have this.
|imm male common darter|
|another imm fem common darter|
No Emperor you notice, didn't attempt a flight shot, was expecting to get one settled or a female ovipositing, little did I know I was to be thwarted once again by the curse of the Northeast summer. But unlike the Black-tailed Skimmer, at least I saw some :-/