Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Review - August and September 2016

The month of August was a continuation of hit and miss weather, lacking in worthwhile opportunities and generally a lack of dragonflies everywhere.
The school holidays means I'm always scrapping for quality time in the field, and as usual, our annual family outing to Cragside was the highlight of the month, with nothing much to be found on regular short visits to Far Pasture or Thornley woods Pond, the latter being particularly disappointing after the excellent early season there; the hawkers which emerged hardly made an appearance on the days I could get there, with just a few Common Darters and a handful of damsels, numbers well down for both on previous years.
Darter numbers were also very low at Far Pasture, with no sightings of Ruddy Darter at all, though as it was early September last year before the first one appeared I wasn't too worried yet. Migrant Hawkers too were noticeable by their absence, usually appearing by the 10th, but again, not a single sighting during August, only Southern Hawkers posing for photographs occasionally at the top of the access road.
I also tried many sites for Golden-ringed Dragonfly on family days out without success, just wasn't my year (again).
A very poor month then, here are the photographic highlights :

Immature male Southern Hawker at Far Pasture on the 5th 

Note the more pastel colouring mix of pale blue and yellow, a lovely specimen. 

Mature male Southern Hawker at Far Pasture on the 13th

Note the much brighter blue and green/yellow of the mature male

Cragside Slipper Tarn on the 15th was undoubted highlight of the month,
this the best of the Black Darter pics on the day.

Star Dragon at Cragside was this female Moorland Hawker.

Shame she kept quite well hidden but the diagnostic yellow costa is all you need for ID confirmation

This only the second female of the species I've managed to photograph, so was very happy even
with these semi-hidden views.

Into September and much the same. With the kids back at school I gleaned every opportunity to get some late summer action, but like August, Thornley Woods Pond and Far Pasture were a dragonfly disappointment.
I spent many an afternoon trying to find a Ruddy Darter at Far Pasture to no avail, so unbelievably dipped this species for 2016, the first year I can remember doing so since I found my first at Far Pasture back in 2006.

Just a Common Darter, pick of my photos from Far Pasture on the 7th

Thankfully, after a poor summer weather-wise, September brought probably our best prolonged spell of good weather all year, so though I left it late, a visit to Shibdon Pond on the 22nd for the annual Migrant Hawker hunt proved to be another season highlight. A double figure count was very good, but when a mating wheel alighted right in front of my very eyes I couldn't believe it and gave me my best shots of the season :

Male Migrant Hawker, quite distant so pleased how this one turned out.

But when this pair landed just three feet away I couldn't believe my luck

Tilted 90 degrees but a stealthy approach gave me some cracking shots

Eye level views I was able to move right in

The female in close-up 

My best pic I think, now my screensaver

Until then I'd only ever photographed one female of the species before, and though I'd seen many a mating wheel this was the first I'd been able to study in close-up, so even in this less than average year, another new experience was gained, and another gap filled in the album.

Thank goodness for an Indian Summer, like last year, some of the best moments came late :-)


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