Monday, 16 July 2018

Stunning Southerns

I made an after work visit to Nethergong tonight, arriving at 16:30pm where I spent an hour walking alongside the stream checking for dragonflies and damselflies in very hot conditions. I didn't manage to find any Willow Emerald Damselfly but it was pleasing to see c25 Emerald Damselfly (only 3 seen at the weekend). Most seemed to be newly emerged and although a little late this year, it seems that they may well have a successful season if there numbers continue to grow. I would hope at the weekend to be seeing a few Willow Emerald Damselfly emerging from the stream. As I continued to walk around, I saw 4 Southern Hawker flying up and down the paths before resting up at times briefly which allowed me to take a few photos of this stunningly coloured species. Also seen were 1 Brown Hawker, 2 Emperor Dragonfly and good numbers of Blue tailed and Azure Damselfly.
 






Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) - Immature male
 

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Saturday Sunshine

With the weekend here and some lovely warm, windless weather forecast for this morning, I decided on an early morning walk at Nethergong. I arrived at 5:45am where I spent a couple of hours walking around the area and checking likely areas for Emerald and Willow Emerald Damselflies. The weather was stunning early morning as I walked along the stream but again, failed to find and Willow Emerald Damselflies although a few have no doubt emerged and are maturing up in the nearby trees. I would imagine that by next weekend, I should be seeing Willow Emerald Damselfly numbers starting to slowly build. I did manage to find 4 Emerald Damselfly, 3 newly emerged and 1 dewy male which provided a few photo opportunities in the early morning sunshine.
 


Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa)  - male
 
I also saw a few Banded Demoiselle, Azure Damselfly as well as 4 Southern Hawker and 1 Brown Hawker. With a few hours still to spare, I moved on to Grove Ferry where I spent the time wandering around where I noted a good 27+ Norfolk Hawker which included 4 mating pairs. Although a few had battle scars, there were a good number still in good condition. Also seen here were 10+ Small red eyed Damselfly, c10 Black tailed Skimmer, c10 Emperor Dragonfly, 3 Brown Hawker as well as good numbers of Blue tailed and Azure Damselfly. A most pleasant relaxing morning.
 

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa)  - male 


Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa)  - teneral female


Thursday, 12 July 2018

Early Season Willow Fix

With a Willow Emerald Damselfly emerging a few nights ago from my garden pond, I wanted to make sure that I took the damselfly back to Nethergong where I collected the nymph to release it so it could stand the best chance of continuing the cycle of life for this species. I spent a couple of hours walking along the stream where in cloudy conditions, I was not surprised to see any at all, but a quick netting session again at least provided me with a few Willow Emerald and Emerald Damselfly nymphs in the shallows preparing to emerge soon. With the conditions not ideal for flying, I released the male Willow Emerald Damselfly on to a stick on the edge of the reeds where I then spent a while taking a number of photos knowing it was unlikely to fly off. Despite the lack of sunshine, I surprisingly ended up with a few pleasing efforts of this superb damselfly showing some of the characteristics required to identify this species. Hopefully in a few weeks there will be a good number flying and I will be able to spend time in their company studying, learning and photographing this still rare damselfly. Roll on the Willow season.
 



 

Willow Emerald Damselfy (Chalcolestes viridis) Teneral Male


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Emerging Willow Emerald Damselfly

Last weekend whilst at Nethergong looking for Willow Emerald and Emerald Damselflies without much success, I decided to see whether I could find any nymphs of the mentioned species to see whether they were close to emergence. I spent a while netting in the stream where I managed to find a few fully grown Willow Emerald and Emerald Damselfly nymphs. By now, the Emerald Damselflies are normally on the wing but I have only seen one so far, so was a bit concerned for them but it appears that they are yet to emerge and seem to be just a little late this year. I decided to collect two of each species to take home and put in the pond where I would hopefully monitor them over the next few evenings to see whether I could photograph and emergence. On Tuesday evening, I went out to check the pond at dusk and could already see one of the Willow Emerald Damselfly nymphs out of the water on a stick. Its not the most photogenic to emerge on but it obviously suited the nymph as it was quite sturdy and stable which was the most important think. I gathered the equipment together and set it up at the pond along with something to lay on and my trust flask. I kept on checking the nymph which seemed quite happy resting up but at 22:45pm, I decided to stay outside and hope that I would see and photograph an emergence. Yet more time passed but at 23:45pm, the nymph started to emerge and the next hour was spent photographing the different stages of the emergence. I really look forward to seeing this species every year so it was a superb treat so early in their season to be able to witness this magical secret moment of the natural world. I'm hoping to be able to photograph an Emerald Damselfly emerging soon as well as more Willow Emerald Damselflies. I returned the Willow Emerald Damselfly today to Nethergong where after a photo session, he flew off high into the trees to mature up.
 










 Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - Male Emerging
 
Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - Teneral Male with Exuviae