Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The 'Willows' That Just Keep Giving

Since the second week of July, I have been very lucky to have made many visits to Nethergong to experience the Willow Emerald Damselflies. Its been excellent and an education to watch them emerge, mature, mate and oviposit and many of these encounters have been documented on camera. With many species now over their flight period, I have continued to enjoy the Willow Emerald Damselfly season and last weekend during a warm weather spell which saw temperatures reach the low twenties, I spent a few hours at Nethergong counting, watching and photographing this species. Most of the action were centered around a couple of Alder Trees overhanging the water where a number of pairs were seen in tandem and egg laying on the branches. A good search through the binoculars at the branches revealed excellent numbers of gall marks (the raised marks on the tree where egg laying has taken place) and i'm hopeful of another good season next year. I continued to wander and soon found a few individuals enjoying the sunshine and perching out well which enabled me to take a number of photos of them in the lovely light. No matter how many photos I have taken of this species, I am always looking for improvements as the changing light can affect the photos considerably. The weather forecast doesn't look that good for the weekend but I am hopeful that I can make another visit soon to enjoy the last part of their flight season as well as seeing the odd Common Darter and maybe a Migrant Hawker. 











 Willow Emerald Damselfly (male)

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Autumn Darters

With some lovely warm autumnal weather this weekend, I have made the most of it and made a couple of visits to Nethergong to enjoy the dragonflies and damselflies. Yesterday (Saturday), I spent a few hours in morning and afternoon walking around the campsite which is now devoid of campers and managed to see 28 Willow Emerald Damselfly, c15 Common Darter and 3 Migrant Hawker. I managed to take a number of photos of the Willow Emerald Damselflies which posed nicely in the afternoon sunshine which I shall post I due coarse. I decided to return today where the plan was to spend some time watching and photographing the Common Darters as I seemed to have neglected this species of late with the camera. I arrived at 9am in the already warming sunshine and made my way to the eastern boundary where I spent the next few hours walking up and down the path checking for Common Darters on the leaves on the floor.

The Eastern Boundary at Nethergong

I managed to see c20 Common Darter in the end with a number showing well for photos in the excellent light today. I spent most of my time crawling on my stomach as I stalked them but with some patience, I was able to get a few nice images of this species as well as making time to study them as they chased each other and prey and often returned to the same leaf.



Common Darter (male)

With a number of images taken but the wind starting to pick up, I had a quick look for Willow Emerald Damselflies but only managed to find 2. No doubt they were sheltering from the wind. There were 2 Migrant Hawker seen which ended a nice productive session in lovely weather. Back to work tomorrow so fingers crossed for some more lovely weather for next weekend where hopefully, I can get back out to see whats about. 








Common Darter (male)

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Results are In!

There was a recent poll on Twitter by the British Dragonfly Society to find out the favourite autumn dragonfly. The options included the Willow Emerald Damselfly, Southern Hawker, Migrant Hawker and Common Darter. I was personally completely torn between the Willow Emerald Damselfly and Migrant Hawker but in the end, opted for the Migrant Hawker. I look forward to seeing this species every year and have associated the onset of Autumn with this species. It also reminds me that the season is entering its final stage, along with the darker evenings and the leaves falling off the trees. Whilst any of these species could've won, it does come down to personal opinion I suppose. The other placings went to the Southern Hawker (2nd) followed closely by the Willow Emerald Damselfly (3rd) and finally, the Common Darter. It looks like we are due for quite a warm weekend with temperatures forecast to be in the low twenties so hopefully I will be able to make a few visits out to see, enjoy and photograph the species which are flying in the warm autumnal sunshine. To celebrate the Migrant Hawker being voted the favourite Autumn dragonfly, here are a few photos of this lovely species. 



Migrant Hawker (immature female) 



Migrant Hawker (immature male) 

Migrant Hawker (immature female) 

Migrant Hawker (immature male)

Monday, 9 October 2017

The Colours of Autumn

Autumn is really upon us now and no better sign than seeing the leaves falling from the trees, the paths crinkling with leaves underfoot and the superb yellow, orange and red leaves that provide the autumn spectacle to the eye. It was with this in mind that I decided to visit Nethergong at the weekend to not only see if I could find and Willow Emerald Damselflies but also to see whether I could capture a few photos with that autumn feel and colour to them. With a small window on Saturday late morning with the sun breaking through occasionally, I arrived on site at 9.30am and spent an hour on the eastern boundary where I walked no more than 100 yards checking the waterside bushes and vegetation. The sun was very much out for a couple of minutes and in for five minutes but I managed to find 10 Willow Emerald Damselfly at rest. Most were still warming up and not flying and I suspect if I had stayed into the afternoon when the sun really broke through, that I would have found many more. As it was, I was content to see them still and set about trying to capture a few photos with some autumnal colours in the background. This was easier said than done but with a bit of patience, I was able to maneuver in to a few ideal positions where in the background, some nice autumn leaves gave that feeling. I had not packed the Sigma 150mm macro lens so used the Canon f4 300mm  lens which meant I was shooting a little further away than I maybe hoped for but I was still pretty pleased with the outcome. I hope in the next few weeks to make a few more visits if time and weather allows to see if I can continue this theme and capture some more autumnal photos of the last few remaining species on the wing. 




Willow Emerald Damselfly (female) 

Willow Emerald Damselfly (male)