Sunday, 22 November 2015

Spectacular Seawatch at Reculver!

With a strong NW wind forecast for Saturday blowing up to 50mph with rain showers, this looked to perfect conditions for a seawatch off Reculver Towers. Its been a couple of years since the last really good seawatch and often the right conditions still don't deliver the goods but this turned out to be a memorable seawatch for both quality and quantity of birds. I arrived around 8am where a few birders were present and after getting tucked in, I settled in for nearly 5 hours of seawatching. At first the wind was NNW and only a few birds were moving but mid morning the wind really got up and started to swing around to the NW which produced some excellent movement of birds. Noted between 8am - 12.30pm were 1 Velvet Scoter, c20 Common Scoter, 1 Pochard, c70 Dark bellied Brent Geese, 2 Red breasted Merganser, 15 Shelduck, c50 Dunlin, 4 Grey Plover, c20 Guillemot, 2 Goldeneye and 2 Redshank. Whilst I have seen many Gannets at Reculver over the years, there was a movement of c1300 Gannet moving west in a continuous stream of birds with a few birds coming in quite close where I attempted some photography which was challenging in the gale force wind. In all fairness, there could have easily been 2000 birds going through. It was certainly a spectacle I have never seen before at Reculver. Also seen were c500 Kittiwake moving west in flocks close to the shore, 2 Little Auk zipped through and I just managed to get the camera onto one of them to record a shot. There were c40 Wigeon, 6 Snipe, 15 Teal, c30 Teal, 10 Turnstone, 2 Goosander, 20 Great Skua, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Pomarine Skua and 10 Little Gull concluded a superb memorable session. All those hours in the past of staring out to see not seeing much are soon rewarded with a session like this. 


Great Skua


Little Auk

Thursday, 19 November 2015

'Striped' Emperor Dragonfly Nymph

Whilst out and about last weekend at a site near Reculver looking for dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, I really wanted to find a 'stripey' Emperor Dragonfly nymph. I'm not too sure why they seem to be this pattern when they are quite small and perhaps someone can enlighten me on this but when you catch them in the net, they do tend to stand out easily. Maybe under the water in the debris and in among certain water plants and weed, they blend in well? After a number of unsuccessful dips for them, I eventually found a nice stripey Emperor Dragonfly nymph of about 12mm and returned home to take some photos in my indoor tank. After a bit of preparation I was soon sitting in comfort taking a few photos in the conservatory using manual mode, f8 - f11, ISO 400, speed set to 250 and in camera flash used. Being so small, it took a bit of time to settle as it rushed around the tank but with a bit of patience, I was able to get a number of images using some red leaves as a background. With some cold weather forecast for the weekend, I can probably see myself making another visit to catch a few more species to photograph at home in a nice warm environment with food and drink at hand. Yes that sounds very tempting!

'Stripey' Emperor Dragonfly Nymph (12mm)

Sunday, 15 November 2015

A 'Big' Emperor Dragonfly Nymph

I spent an hour out today in gale force winds at a site near Reculver trying to find various species of dragonfly and damselfly to collect and photograph in my indoor tank. I had already prepared the tank for when I returned home and this time, I put in some pre soaked leaves that had gone brown to try to give a more natural colour and backround. At the site I managed to collect a few Emperor Dragonfly with most returned except for a 40mm individual which I thought I would photograph. I also managed to catch lots of damselfly nymphs, mostly Azure Damselfly I think along with a few Common Blue Damselfly. What I was surprised about after looking on the internet was the complete lack of Small Red eyed Damselfly nymphs to be seen and this is also a species I have yet to find as a nymph. After finding out a few identification features for this species which does occur at the site, I checked likely nymphs but drew a blank with this but I hope to at some point be able to find and photograph this seemingly not photographed a lot nymph. I suspect next year a few weeks prior to their emergence will give me the best chance. Back at home and I spent a while in the warm conservatory taking a number of photos of the Emperor Dragonfly nymph. Normally they shoot all around the tank but this individual seemed quite happy to pose on the leaves and gave me some of my best shots of this species to date and a chance to study this large nymph up close. I also photographed a nice 'stripy' Emperor Dragonfly nymph which I shall post later in the week all being well.

Emperor Dragonfly Nymph (40mm)

Friday, 13 November 2015

The Emperor Dragonfly Nymph (Part 2)

I spent another night a few days ago in the conservatory taking a number of photos in my indoor tank of one of the emperor nymphs I managed to catch a few days ago. This individual was about 15mm in length and was just starting to darken in colour but was still a bit 'stripy'. I spent some time trying to capture a few pleasing photos using manual mode, f8-f11, ISO 400, speed set to 250 and in camera flash used and was again quite pleased with the results. Although quite small to photograph, I always enjoy the challenge of trying to get an image of the detail we may never otherwise see on these nymphs. As can be seen in some of the photos, you can see by the jaws on them that they have a fierce reputation and certainly are the top predators in the water in the insect world. Hopefully over the next few days I am going to try again to find and collect one of the 'stripy' Emperor Dragonfly nymphs which are quite stunning to look at. I'm not too sure if all Emperor nymphs start off as 'stripies' and lose this pattern as they grow but it would certainly make for a few nice shots to add to the collection.

Emperor Dragonfly Nymph (15mm)