Saturday, 23 August 2014

Back for Sunrise

After my attempts the other morning at catching a Common Blue Damselfly with the sun rising in the background, I thought with quite a good forecast that I would try again for some more shots. Leaving home at 5.30am I soon arrived on site where it was a little cloudy and windy but I had hopes that a few opportunities would come my way. I set up the tripod and camera and went to the area I photographed the other day as it was a little sheltered and set about trying to find a few damselflies in the grass. I soon found a few and after a while I found a suitable subject which would hopefully provide some action. At around 5.55am the sky started to turn a nice orange/red colour and the sun started to appear. The sun only had a short while before it hit a bank of cloud so I had to work quickly, not the success of the other day but I was able to grab a few pleasing efforts. It was surprising how different the light was from different angles and the way it caught the damselflies body and wings was a nice sight.

Common Blue Damselfly at Dawn

All too quickly the sun had risen and was in the clouds but it soon appeared not long after but my job was done for today with the early morning shots. As the temperature was still quite cool I thought I would take a few shots of the Common Blue Damselfly as it caught the sun. I took a good few which I will save for another post but some time was used trying to capture the damselfly with its eyes either side of a thin stick. I have tried this shot a few times before but never quite catch it right but I managed a not bad effort which I was quite happy with. 

Common Blue Damselfly

I left the damselflies in peace and went for a wander and decided to walk a sheltered path lined with trees and bushes to see what was around. As I walked through the grass Common Blue Damselflies were on the move as was 1 Emerald Damselfly. I started to check the trees and soon found c10 Migrant Hawkers hanging up with a few lower down which provided a few shots for another post when it gets quieter. As I walked back towards the car I thought I would have a good check for Willow Emerald Damselflies, I found one the other day and thought maybe others would be around. I was rewarded for my efforts with finding 3 Willow Emerald Damselflies, about 150m away from the individual I found the other day so it look likely that this is the start of a small colony, fingers crossed. With this I was soon back at the car having seen lots of Common Darter and was home for 9am for breakfast. Looking at the forecast for tomorrow morning, it looks quite good for a sunrise and light winds too. With a few plans to put into action, hopefully I can get a few more of those stunning sunrise shots.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

A Stunning Sunrise Captured

With clear skies forecast and light winds for this morning I was out of the house at 5.30am to hopefully catch some early morning dragonfly action. I arrived a few minutes later and as I walked up the entrance track I was amazed at the colour of the sky against the plants and trees. It was a lovely orange/red colour and this gave me an idea for a few photos. I had about 15 minutes until sunrise and decided to find a damselfly that would have a bright sunlit background to it and show a silhouette. It was easy to find plenty of blades of grass for the shot but finding a damselfly on one was a bit more challenging. Eventually I found a few at rest and laying down and composing the shot, I actually thought this might work. I set up the tripod and got everything into position and waited. Not long after the sky began to show a brighter orange colour and the sun started to rise. I had to work quite quickly and move into various positions to get a few shots but with a bit of luck I managed a few shots that I must say, I am very pleased with. The way the sun catches the damselfly is just stunning and its like the Common Blue Damselfly is watching the day begin.



Common Blue Damselfly at Dawn

With the sun moving higher in the sky I moved on to see what was around. I only spent a while longer walking around and noted plenty of Common Blue and Blue tailed Damselfly with a few Emerald Damselfly seen too and at 8am it was off home for breakfast. With the family going to the beach at 11am I had a few more hours back out and decided to have a look over at Reculver. I spent a pleasant hour there where I saw a few Migrant Hawker as well as Common Blue and Blue tailed Damselflies and both Common and Ruddy Darter. I decided to return to the site south of Reculver where it was now quite warm and there was a lot of dragonfly activity about. One of today's highlights was when I was walking down the entrance track and a large damselfly flew out from a bush and returned to land again. I put the binoculars on to it and could see it was a male Willow Emerald Damselfly, my first at this site and probably the first record for the site. I watched it for a while and checked for others but couldn't see any, no doubt there are others around I'm sure. Walking down and around the water I saw c8 Emperor Dragonfly, c6 Migrant Hawker including a female egg laying where I had watched one emerge earlier in the month, 1 Four spotted Chaser, c4 Black tailed Skimmer, lots of Common Darter with lesser numbers of Ruddy Darter, good numbers of Common Blue and Blue tailed Damselfly with the odd Emerald Damselfly seen as well. For the last 10 minutes I put the camera away, sat on some high ground looking over the area and just watched the dragonflies and damselflies flying around. A very nice session in lovely sunny weather with little wind, lots to look at and photograph and nice to get a Willow Emerald Damselfly there, but the undoubted highlight has to be that early morning sunrise with the damselflies in silhouette, just brilliant and a privilege to be able to watch and capture some of my best photos I have probably ever taken.


Common Blue Damselfly at Dawn

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

More Early Morning Photo Challenges

I spent another couple of hours at a site near Reculver this morning from 5.45am where on arrival I could see a good number of spider webs covered in dew which was encouraging for my 'dewy' shots of the damselflies. It was actually quite chilly this morning and even the coat and hat joined the party this morning as I made my way to an area which still holds good numbers of Common Blue, Blue tailed and Emerald Damselflies. The wind was pretty still this morning making it a little easier and making the dew last a little longer as it wasn't getting blown off everything. After setting up the tripod and camera I set about finding a few subjects to photograph. I soon found a few Emerald Damselflies and due to their bigger size, set about getting a few more photos of this lovely sight. Thankfully I was able to get the tripod into an area and fire off a few shots. Despite the sun not being on the subject and not that much light around, I think they actually work better than the ones with the sun on them.



Female Emerald Damselfly

As well as the satisfaction of getting the shots its nice to capture a photo that not many eyes get to see a close range. I soon wandered again and found a few Common Blue Damselflies and decided I would try some more images of the damselflies hiding behind the grass stems. This species more than the others I see has a tendency to hide well and will move around the stem as you watch them. I soon found a few and set about getting a few shots.


Common Blue Damselfly

They remained hidden which was good and a few shots worked well but I cannot help but feel that there is more to offer with this shot. Can I get closer? Can I get a sharper, image? What about the background are all questions I have in mind with this shot and I will be back for more I'm sure. After the sun appeared in the area and the damsels dried out and flew off I made my way back to the car where on the way I saw a few Common Darter, 2 Migrant Hawker and 1 Black tailed Skimmer. Home for 8.45am for tea and breakfast, not bad at all!

Common Blue Damselfly

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

'Dew' Another Go!

With the temperature dropping down a little lower last night I hoped that it would give me another chance to make an early morning visit to a site near Reculver to see if I could improve on my first dew attempts with the damselflies a few weeks ago. I left home about 5.30am where it was good to see the grass shining already with dew and a few moments later I arrived on site. With all the equipment this morning, tripod, monopod and bean bag I made my way to an area that I have been watching for a while that had a good number of roosting damselflies and set to work finding them. I soon come across a few roosting Common Blue Damselflies and they had dew on them which was encouraging but not in an area that would be easy to photograph. I soon found a couple of Emerald Damselfly in the open roosting nicely on some small sticks and even better, they had plenty of early morning dew on them. The sun was starting to rise so I had to be quick in getting into position knowing that when the sun got on to the Emeralds, they would soon become active and dry out. There wasn't that much light around in the shade but they looked very impressive so I took a number of shots of them hoping to get a few to come out that I could use.




Female Emerald Damselfly

The tripod made it much easier today and I was able to sit back at times and just click away. The sun soon appeared and straight away the Emerald started to become active, shaking its wings and with this the droplets started to move around and collect on the tip of the abdomen, again providing a few nice photo opportunities.

Female Emerald Damselfly

It wasn't long at all until other damselflies started to appear from the grass and not long after, the Emerald Damselfly took to the skies for its first flight of the day. It was kind of nice to put the plan into action and for it to come off this morning. No doubt I shall be back for more in the next few weeks and see if I an make any improvements on today's efforts but it was quite satisfying to leave with a few nice shots in the bag.


Female Emerald Damselfly