Monday, 24 July 2017

A 'Dew'tiful Day!

I was up early Sunday morning where after getting ready, I drove the few minutes drive over to Nethergong where upon arrival at 6.30am, I could see that it was a nice dewy morning with some sunshine and no wind. Had I done my homework better, I would have arrived at first light to make the most of finding and photographing the dewy damselflies but there was hopefully still time to find some roosting. I spent an hour or so walking alongside the stream checking the soaked vegetation and long grasses and got a soaking for my efforts which I think were worth it as I found a few dewy Emerald and Willow Emerald Damselflies.


Emerald Damselfly (female) 

Emerald Damselfly (male) 

Every now and then, I was alerted to the buzzing of wet wings which in turn gave away their roosting position and although most were not in ideal photographic positions, I found a few suitable individuals to spent some time. With the sun quite low in the sky and some lovely lighting for photos, I managed to take a few pleasing efforts before they continued to dry out and eventually moved off.


Willow Emerald Damselfly (male)

As the morning warmed up, I spent a while walking alongside the stream again and counted c30 Willow Emerald Damselfly. Most were seen making their maiden flights and a few were also seen emerging.  So far this season, I have had c170 Willow Emerald Damselfly emerge from the stream and no doubt missed a good number as well. Hopefully there are plenty more to emerge in the next few weeks too which will keep me busy on my visits.

Willow Emerald Damselfly (male)

Willow Emerald Damselfly (female)

Readers will note from last year that I observed them egg laying on stinging nettles and that this behaviour was potentially a British first and it seems that this method continues to work well as many have been seen emerging in this area where the nettles overhang the waters edge. I will continue to monitor them and hopefully observe and photograph this behaviour again this year. Moving on, I noted c30 Emerald Damselfly and whilst checking the waters edge, come across a close mating pair which provided me with my best shots of this species mating so far.


Emerald Damselfly (mating pair)

I also manged to see a few Ruddy Darter and before I left, I took a walk along the stream near the entrance to the site and saw c50 Banded Demoiselle. 

Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Willows of Nethergong

With a little sunshine forecast for this morning, I decided after a few weeks absence to visit Nethergong to make a count of the Willow Emerald Damselflies that are there along the stream. I arrived at 8.45am where the sun was making brief visits through the clouds but it was at least quite warm and sheltered where I was looking. I spent a good 2 hours walking c100 yds along the stream side checking the emergent vegetation and long grasses and ended up seeing c100 Willow Emerald Damselfly. Not a bad tally for such a short distance. I would expect there are many more to be found if I walked a little further but this is the first time I have had a three figure count I believe in one visit. Whilst checking the bank side vegetation, I saw a number of exuviae and also saw a few Willow Emerald Damselflies in various stages of emerging. Although the angle was not that good, I spent a while photographing one emerging before putting the camera down and just sat back and watched the new life emerge in front of my eyes.

Emerging Willow Emerald Damselfly

A good number were seen making their maiden flights to the long grasses and trees nearby and these provided a few photo opportunities throughout the visit. It looks like this will be another good season for them and I hope they continue to spread on the site and throughout east/west Kent.

Willow Emerald Damselfly (male) 


Willow Emerald Damselfly (female) 

Iv'e waited till last season for them to emerge again so I will make no apologies for plenty more photos of them in the next few months and hopefully this may include a few shots of a mating pair and egg laying. Also seen today were c30 Emerald Damselfly, a few Blue tailed, Azure and 1 Large Red Damselfly along with 1 Emperor Dragonfly and my first Migrant Hawker of the year. With time off now for the summer holidays, hopefully I can make a few more visits to monitor this site and continue to enjoy watching and photographing the odonata that Nethergong has to offer. 


Willow Emerald Damselfly (male) 

Willow Emerald Damselfly (female) 


Willow Emerald Damselfly (male) 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Southern Delights in Essex

With a very good sized colony of the nationally rare Southern Migrant Hawker found in a ditch at Canvey Island in Essex, I decided to make the 90 minute drive to hopefully see them over the weekend. As seems to be the case, most of the week when I am at work is lovely warm sunshine but the weather forecast for Saturday was for early sunny spells and then clouding over but still pretty warm temperatures. After convincing myself that the weather was hopefully going to be alright, I arrived in the area at 9.30am and parked nearby at the Waterside Sports Centre and walked c10 minutes to the entrance to the recycling centre. Crossing over the road here was the ditch in question and it wasn't long until I started my search. At first it was still quite cloudy but it wasn't long until the sun made an appearance and I was soon looking at my first male Southern Migrant Hawker hanging up in a bush. With their brilliant blue eyes and abdomen, they do stand out quite well which was helpful. After a few pleasing shots, I then spent the next 3 hours walking no further than c300 yards and managed to see 20+ Southern Migrant Hawkers flying up the ditch and perching occasionally when the sun went in.




Southern Migrant Hawker (male)

It was also nice to see a pair in tandem and I watched as the pair flew into the reeds occasionally where the female was seen ovipositing. A good sign for the future hopefully. As the morning rolled on, so the clouds rolled in which gave me some time to find a few perched individuals and with light to a premium, I took a few shots adding some flash which worked well for a few shots.




Southern Migrant Hawker (male)

Before I left, I spent some time talking to others on site enjoying the spectacle and made time to try to capture a few flight shots which in the end, became a little addictive. It was worth it though with a few shots turning out quite nicely. Also noted on site were c30 Scarce Emerald Damselfly and plenty of Ruddy and Common Darter. With a good number of these stunning dragonflies seen and if you haven't seen one, you should make the effort to see them, I made my way back to the car on onwards back home to Kent. It seems to be a bumper year for this species in Essex this year with others being seen at a few nearby sites and hopefully, this trend will continue and spread into north Kent again in the next few years. 



Southern Migrant Hawker (male)

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Wonderful Willow Wings!

I am very lucky in that where I live, there are a good few sized Willow Emerald Damselfly colonies and an example of this can be seen at Nethergong campsite where I often spend quite a bit of time studying and photographing this lovely species. With the season under way, I will no doubt be looking for photos to better last years images and with this in mind, I decided at the weekend to try for a number of images with the wings open. Its always nice to be able to photograph newly emerged damselflies as there wings have a lovely clean rainbow appearance about them at some angles but with the sunshine proving an issue, I tried to make the best of the situation and ended up with a few pleasing images. A starting point at least from which to work with. I shall be trying to again photograph a mating pair this year which I struggled with last year and will hopefully have many hours of entertainment with them and maybe even learn something new along the way. Its been a long wait but i'm certainly going to enjoy it. 



Willow Emerald Damselfly (female) 

Willow Emerald Damselfly (male) 

Willow Emerald Damselfly (female)