Friday, 24 October 2014

The Mating Game

With the exception of a few species that are on the wing, the season is nearly over for another year. Most dragonflies and damselflies now are hopefully growing larvae of different sizes and for some, they will emerge next year and carry on the cycle. It was pleasing this year to capture a few species in the mating 'wheel'. I found with a steady and slow approach that I could get quite close and not disturb the action with the exception of the Norfolk Hawkers where there was a dyke in the way, but the result was still quite pleasing. I have posted a few of my favourites, nice memories of warm sunny days where all the factors worked out for the photographer. 

Mating Hairy Dragonflies

Mating Norfolk Hawkers

Mating Migrant Hawkers

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Tales from the 'Willow'

I mentioned in yesterdays post that I managed to find a few Common Blue Damselfly hanging on still. A few were still in good condition and I wonder if it remains mild whether they can hang on till November, I doubt it but you never know. Sometimes this species can be quite hard to photograph and getting near to them can be a challenge as they are so wary but this individual let me creep up yesterday and take a few nice shots.

Male Common Blue Damselfly

I also had a plan to see if I could find any places where the female Willow Emerald Damselflies had been egg laying. Unlike other damselfly species that lay their eggs in water, this species lays their eggs in the branches of trees that overhang water. The eggs stay in the branches until next spring when they hatch and the prolarva then fall into the water where they rapidly grow and in a space of a few months, emerge as adults. Even more amazing is that when the prolarva fall from the branches, if they fail to land in the water, they are pre programmed to jump and hopefully in that way get to the water. After a bit of searching I managed to find a number of ovipositing galls or scars that the female makes when egg laying. They are quite noticeable when you get your eye in and I saw quite a few in the trees I checked.

Willow Emerald Damselfly Ovipositing Galls

 I would like to catch a female in the act of egg laying but this may have top wait until next year now, but you never know. As I keep finding out, there is so much to learn about these fascinating insects and what a story the Willow Emerald Damselfly has, a real privilege to have these nationally rare damselflies breeding in Kent and spreading fast it seems.  

Willow Emerald Damselfly Ovipositing Galls

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A 'Common' Study

After spending a couple of hours at Reculver getting blown down the seawall in a strong westerly wind and not seeing much for my troubles, I thought as it was quite sunny that I would drive inland a little and see if I could find any dragonflies sheltering. I soon arrived and after having a drink of coffee out of the trusty flask I took a walk around. It was still very windy but I found a few sheltered areas and here I found some Common Darters basking in the sun. Out of the wind it was actually quite warm and I spent some time on my belly getting a number of shots of some 'over mature' Common Darters. They let me get quite close and it was nice to be able to study them at close range and take in all the details.

'Over Mature' Female Common Darter

Moving on I eventually found c15 Common Darters and no doubt a few more went unnoticed. I found a pair in tandem which provided a nice photo opportunity and nearby were 2 Common Blue Damselfly, one of them allowing me to get a number of images which I shall post in the next few days.

Common Darters in Tandem

A check of some likely areas provided just 1 Willow Emerald Damselfly, a female which was good to see. This prompted me to have a look for the ovipositing galls or scars that are made when the female is egg laying. I found quite a few on the branches over hanging the water and will post a few shots in due course. Again a very rewarding session, nice to see a few dragonflies and get a few images of them. Weather permitting, hopefully another session somewhere tomorrow!

'Over Mature' Female Common Darter

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Some More Nymph Dilemma's

I spent about an hour near Reculver this morning seeing what dragonfly and damselfly larvae I could catch. I caught a number of damselfly larvae, probably Blue tailed Damselfly although trying to identify something so small is quite a challenge. I also caught what I believe is either a Common or Ruddy Darter, more than likely Common. The legs extending well beyond the abdomen and the head tapering in towards the rear point me to this conclusion. It was only about 5mm long, a very tricky subject to photograph and get much detail on.

Common / Ruddy Darter Nymph?

The other find I think maybe a Black tailed Skimmer, about 10mm in length, the main reason leading me to this being the rectangular shaped head as viewed from above. I took a few photos of them both and hope someone can confirm what they are.

Black tailed Skimmer Nymph?

The Darter even deciding to photo bomb one attempt as I was taking a shot of the Skimmer, a nice comparison though in size and body shape etc.

Common / Ruddy Darter & Black tailed Skimmer?

Its tricky work but thoroughly enjoyable, learning hopefully all the time. Depending on the weather I shall hopefully be out in the week, a few pond sessions at Nethergong are on the cards with my eldest daughter seemingly quite good at catching them, good for me though as it gives me more time to set up and take photos.