Sunday, 4 October 2015

Red veined Darters Emerge!

With my eldest daughter photographing an immature Red veined Darter on Friday morning on her mobile phone about 50 yards from home, I wondered if anymore had emerged from a private site nearby so I planned to visit the site Saturday to have a good look around. Saturday dawned and it was very foggy but the forecast suggested by mod morning the fog would lift to a beautiful sunny day. With this in mind I decided to arrive about 11am where it was still a little foggy but starting to clear. I hoped a good wander around might reveal a few dragonflies before they warmed up and took flight for the day. As I walked through the long grass and nearby reed edges, I disturbed the odd Common Darter but not long after, a rather yellow Darter appeared from if front of me and landed a few metres away. A quick scan revealed a pristine immature male Red veined Darter. I must confess that although the brilliant males are superb, I personally like them better in their immature stage, the blue underside to the eyes standing out really well. For once the conditions played in my favour and I spent the next 30 minutes or so taking a number of images of the darter as it happily posed for me.

Red veined Darter (immature male)

Eventually the sun broke through and he was off so I continued my walk on specifically looking for more of this species. In the next 2 hours I managed to find a total of 4 Red veined Darters, all seemingly really fresh and in superb conditions. They were a bit more wary now but with a bit of field craft, I was able to grab a few more pleasing images to add to my collection.

Red veined Darter (immature male)

I also noted quite a few Migrant Hawker, Common Darter and 1 Common Blue Damselfly. I really didn't think I would stand a chance of seeing again this year but it just goes to show, if you have a good look around, you never know. I suppose the biggest thanks goes to my daughter Jasmine, who without finding the individual on Friday, I probably would have not put so much effort in to look for them. Whilst I am often happy with most of my shots I publish, a few of these I am really pleased with and I think are some of my best shots I have of this species, and in the immature stage as well which is a real bonus. I made another trip back this morning and despite a two hour search, I failed to find any Red veined Darters in warm sunshine. Was I just unlucky or had they already began their journey back south? Whatever the reason, its been a real privilege to be able to see and photograph what is still a very scarce national dragonfly close to where I live. Hopefully the weather will be kind next weekend and I will be able to get back out to enjoy what is still on the wing.

Red veined Darter (immature male)

Friday, 2 October 2015

Flying Migrants

Anyone into their dragonfly photography will tell you that its a big challenge to capture most dragonflies in flight and with some species, almost impossible. However, there are a few species that with a bit of patience and many shots taken, are possible to capture in flight well. One species that often cooperates is the Migrant Hawker and thankfully every autumn, they provide a good challenge and test the photographer, often to the point of frustration. I have spent many hours trying to capture this species in flight and so far my shots vary from 'quite pleasing' to 'another one to delete'! I have struggled this year to capture a nice clean detailed shot with clean background, the dragonfly at a nice angle and perfect lighting but trawling through the archives provided me with a few shots that inspire me to continue this challenge and see what I can achieve. On another theme, when I returned home from work tonight, my eldest daughter come up to me and showed me a photo she had taken this morning on her phone of a dragonfly on the path just around the corner where we live. To my amazement, it was an immature male Red veined Darter. I have seen them at a site about a mile away and wonder whether it has appeared from there, a good chance I suspect. Maybe the weekend will deliver a chance of a Migrant Hawker in flight shot but I just hope for some nice weather and light winds where I should be able to capture a few shots of the dragonflies which remain on the wing. 

Migrant Hawker (male)

Monday, 28 September 2015

The Mating Game!

With so many Migrant Hawkers still around at the weekend enjoying the warm sunny weather, it seemed rude not to enjoy them again so I spent a few hours in their company watching the males defending their territories against any other dragonfly that flew through their area. Unlike some dragonflies which have quite large territories, there were often up to 5 Migrant Hawkers perched up in the reeds really close to each other and at times, they seemed to ignore each other, that was until any females flew through which insured a frenzied chase by the males until one finally managed to grab her. They often returned to the reeds to mate which gave me the chance to try to get some more shots of them and see if I could better my images from last time. As is often the case, sometimes they were facing the wrong way from the sun, reeds in the way or the wrong angles but I found a few pairs where I was able to get into a few good positions and fire off a number of shots. With a few of them, I was able to take my time and get the desired angles required and experiment with different settings which is often not the case when photographing dragonflies.

'Mating' Migrant Hawkers 

It was also interesting to observe how the males on territory where perched. There were a few hanging up in the reeds as you would expect hawkers to do but most were perched horizontally on the reeds and most definitely on the look out. This behaviour seems to be unique to the Migrant Hawkers as I often see them perched in this way but cannot recall other hawkers doing this on territory in quite this fashion.

Migrant Hawker (male)

As well as taking the photos from which I take most pleasure, its learning and observing behaviour like this which continues to draw me into the fascinating life of dragonflies and damselflies. Still a number of photos still to look through so no doubt another post later in the week.   

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Not So 'Common' Now

It was pleasing to look at the forecast Friday night to see that lots of sunshine was planned for Saturday and this proved to be the case when I left home at 10am to visit a site near Reculver. I spent about 4 hours on site where I spent a good while watching Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters which were still in very good numbers and this provided most of the action with the camera again. I found quite a few mating pairs of Migrant Hawkers where I took a good few shots which I shall post later in the week. Its always a challenge to try to get better than you have taken before and I often find myself now pre planning shots if I can to capture the best angles and backgrounds. As I walked around there were a handful of Common Blue Damselfly still on the wing and it was a nice challenge to try to capture some at rest and get some detailed shots of these small damselflies. With a bit of patience, I was able to get into a few low down positions and obtain some pleasant shots of this wary species. With a bit of warm and mild weather possible to come, I hope that a few species will still be on the wing for a while yet and still provide me with enjoyable learning experiences. With plenty of photos still to look through from the weekend, I shall post some of my better attempts throughout the week and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those that look through my blog and take the time to comment and email me about the photos I have taken. I very much appreciate your support which drives me on towards photographic excellence of these fascinating insects.

Common Blue Damselfly (male)