Monday, 7 October 2019

The Autumn Three

With the end of the season slowly starting to creep up and many species season over, there are at least a few species left to enjoy here in east Kent. With some sunshine over the weekend, I made an afternoon visit to Nethergong where good numbers of Willow Emerald Damselfly, Migrant Hawker and Common Darters were to be seen enjoying the late sunshine. It was nice to just have a wander around the site and with the camping season now over, I had the site to myself. I was able to spend time at the stream watching the Willow Emerald Damselflies and capture a few photos of males waiting for passing females.

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - male
Migrant Hawkers were to be found patrolling along the stream and woodland edges and a check of a few areas found a few perching males which gave a few photo opportunities as was a mating pair which was not far away.

 Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - mating pair

 Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - male
In the sunny glades, Common Darters suddenly sprang up unnoticed from the paths but soon landed nearby again. It was one of those afternoons do just simply enjoy the dragonflies. The weather appears to be on the turn now but I have to hope that the weekends deliver the sunny days with a decent temperature to tempt out the dragonflies to coincide with my visits. Hopefully, there will be at least a few more visits to enjoy the rest of what the season has to offer.

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) - female


Saturday, 5 October 2019

Wasp v's Common Darter

Having not managed to get out much in the past couple of weeks due to family trips and the weather not great when I do have the time, I was eagerly anticipating getting out today to see what was still on the wing. It wasn't until my second trip of the day to Nethergong that the sun finally made an appearance and with that, a few of the autumn species were to be seen well in good numbers. A good walk around the site produced at least 51 Willow Emerald Damselfly with a good number seen in tandem ovipositing into various trees and bushes. A while was spent finding a few individuals for the camera which posed quite nicely. I will post these in due coarse. No doubt others were missed but nice to see that they are still around in reasonable numbers. There were also c20 Migrant Hawkers with a few males photographed along with a mating pair and Common Darters were numerous with at least 25 seen basking in the sunshine. Whilst I have seen it a few times over the years, it is always a bit sad to see the demise of a dragonfly in front of you. Today whilst I was photographing a Common Darter, it was suddenly attacked by a wasp. Both spiralled to the ground and as I watched on, I could see the wasp initially stinging the darter. At this point, I really wanted to step in but with the wasp stinging, I was a bit wary of intervening. After a few seconds, the wasp took off but kept flying around the darter. I assume this was to let the sting take effect on the darter. I reluctantly decided to photograph the rest of what was about to unfold. Not nice to watch at all but nature can be raw to say the least. The wasp returned to grapple the darter where it started to remove the abdomen with its strong jaws. It then moved up to the head where this was soon removed and then in turn, the wings were bitten off. Finally, back to the abdomen which was finished off and then the thorax which I assume is the meaty meal for the wasp, was neatly folded under the legs of the wasp before it flew off with its prize. All that was left was a head, wings fluttering in the breeze and the abdomen which occasionally still twitched. Nature can be cruel but with so many predators around, it's inevitable that from time to time, that this will happen. It probably happens a lot but we just don't see it. On a brighter note, hopefully my next post will have a few of the classic autumnal species.  

Common Wasp  attacking Common Darter

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Autumn Delights

With seemingly the last of the warm weather for some time last weekend, I made a couple of visits to Nethergong where it seems, autumn has arrived. The leaves are starting to fall already and change colour and the temperature early morning has that familiar chill about it. Over the weekend, I made an early morning visit and a late afternoon visit to see what differences I could find. I was very surprised despite a good search around the area that I did not find that many Willow Emerald Damselflies. Early morning was of course a little harder to find them but from about 9am, I started to find a few descending from higher up to some of the lower branches in the sunshine. This gave me the opportunity to take a few pleasing efforts with the camera which were taken.

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - female
Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters were seen easily around the site in good numbers and I will have to spend some time in the coming weeks capturing the Darters as they sun themselves on the autumnal floor. The late afternoon visits were again quite productive and with the temperature higher than the mornings, Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters were again the most numerous species. Whilst a few more Willow Emerald Damselfly were noted, I was somewhat disappointed not to see them in better numbers but I suspect many were hidden away ovipositing in the various trees. The ones I did see were often tucked away in groups in the branches egg laying so I am hopeful that more are still around to be found in the coming weeks. With autumn well upon us now and the weather starting to turn for the worse, I'm going to have to hope that my weekend sessions coincide with some nice sunny and mild weather. We can only hope!

 Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) male
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - mating pair

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Autumn Delivery

It's been a few weeks since I have really managed to get out now I have returned back to work after the summer holidays, so with some nice warm weather forecast for this morning, I made a visit to Nethergong for a couple of hours to see what could be found. In a nice steady walk around from 10am, I managed to see c60 Willow Emerald Damselfly, most seen in tandem either flying along the stream and also a few pairs seen ovipositing. There were a good few areas I didn't even check so I suspect many others could have been found if I had stayed later. Also seen were c20 Migrant Hawkers which provided the mornings entertainment with the camera trying for a few in flight photos. After watching a few likely individuals hovering nicely along the stream, I spent some time sitting down and waited for them to pass by. It was just nice and relaxing watching them and a bonus that a few photos turned out quite nicely. If starting dragonfly flight shots, this is the species I would give the time to as they often pause to hover and provide some excellent entertainment. 1 Emerald Damselfly was also noted along with c70 Common Darter which seemed to be everywhere. Nice to be back out again after a few weeks absence enjoying the autumn odonata.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - male