Sunday 19 November 2023

Autumn Delights

With some sunshine mid morning today but clouds starting to build up, I thought I'd  have a quick walk around some of the sunny sheltered areas at Nethergong to see whether any dragonflies or damselflies were still on the wing. I spent an hour searching where I managed to find 4 Willow Emerald Damselfly and 2 Common Darter. I'm sure there would have been more to be found if I had longer to look. With some lovely autumnal colours now on the leaves, these made for a beautiful setting to the shots and some lovely backgrounds. It was slightly more awkward trying to get a clear shot without any foliage in the way but eventually it all come good. These Willows really are quite hardy given all the rain we have and if the weather allows, I'm sure they have a week or so in them yet. If they are to be the last ones I see this year (I hope not) then what a fitting end to their season seeing them posing in the sunshine with electric yellows, oranges and reds in the backgrounds. 

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - male

Sunday 8 October 2023

Autumn Specials

With the weather feeling quite hot over the weekend, I thought I would spend a couple of hours yesterday looking to see what dragonflies and damselflies were still on the wing at Nethergong. With the trees and bushes starting to show the colours of autumn and leaves starting to fall, a few Common Darters were enjoying the sunshine on the floor and were quite hard to pick out unless you accidently flushed them. A single Southern Hawker was seen patrolling low through the trees. Migrant Hawkers were still around and enjoying the number of small flies on the wing but most of my attention was spent watching and photographing the Willow Emerald Damselflies which were still quite numerous, not that surprising really given the weather conditions of late. If the weather continues like this, they will happily make it into late November and maybe, early December. I found a few individuals which were posing nicely and showing off their autumnal colours and settled in to get a few images. What was a little more challenging was trying to either get a clear background or some autumn colours in the background. It was simply pleasant to sit in the warm sunshine really and just watch them go about their lives. It would be nice to think I can have a few more sessions with them this year before their time is over. 

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - male

Sunday 10 September 2023

Late Southerns in the Sun

A few weeks ago a few Southern Emerald Damselfly were found at a new site at Seasalter in North Kent and being a nationally rare damselfly, I was keen to have a visit and see them for myself. Yesterday I met up with Mark Chidwick who watches this area and we were able to find 2 Southern Emerald Damselfly, a male and a female which were in a suitable area where they may possibly breed or indeed may have already bred last year. This however we do not know and it is hoped that they may have already mated and egg layed in the pool which has now completely dried up but fills with water during the winter months. as far as I'm aware, 3 have been seen there in the past few weeks. It will be interesting to see whether any appear next year at this location. With sun and very hot conditions, I was able to spend some time capturing a few pleasing images of this lovely species which can be identified by their bi-coloured pterostigma on the wings. It would be nice to think that this species can slowly spread in the county as there are only a few other sites for this species. I look forward to hopefully a visit next year where fingers crossed, they manage to emerge and continue to build in number. 

Southern Emerald Damselfly (Lestes barbarus) - female

Southern Emerald Damselfly (Lestes barbarus) - male

Wednesday 9 August 2023

Ovipositing Brown Hawkers

I had noticed looking back through my notes that around this time last year, I photographed Brown Hawker ovipositing into decaying wooden sticks in the stream at Nethergong. Despite having dipped for nymphs over the years, I have only ever once caught a Brown Hawker nymph. I decided to hatch a plan whereby I would put a few pieces of wood in the stream with a view that if Brown Hawkers egg layed in them, I would be able to take one back home to my pond where hopefully they would emerge in the next couple of years. In this way, I would be able to study this species better and hopefully watch a few emerge... and as a bonus, maybe collect a few exuviae of this species of which I only have one. Having put a few pieces of decaying wood at various points along the stream a few days ago, I made a visit a few days ago where in lovely sunny weather, I decided to visit them to see whether they were being used and if so, maybe a few photos opportunities. I personally find the Brown Hawker the hardest species to photograph so in this way, at least they would come to me and give me a few shots. The first bit of wood I visited straight away had a female Brown Hawker ovipositing into it and I was able to slowly make my way nearer and take a few shots. I spent the next thirty minutes here where eventually, 3 female Brown Hawker were all sharing the log and busily egg laying. It was interesting watching the females ovipositor slowly pushing into the soft wood and injecting the eggs. They spent about twenty minutes constantly moving around the log before I needed to go. I carefully removed the piece of wood and gave it a wash down under a tap before bringing it home where it is now floating in my pond. I'm not sure how long they take to hatch but hopefully soon, I will have a few Brown Hawker nymphs which over time, I can photograph in my indoor tank set up. There are still a number of floating pieces of wood in the stream so no doubt these will be found and egg layed in. A pleasing hour or so's work and nice when a plan comes together. 

Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) - ovipositing female