Friday, 22 May 2015

After Work at Westbere

With a bit of warm sunshine after work this week, I have made a couple of visits to Westbere Lakes where I have wandered around seeing what dragonflies are on the wing. There have been hundreds of Variable and Blue tailed Damselflies with good numbers of Azure Damselfly along with lesser numbers of Red eyed Damselfly and c30 Banded Demoiselle along the river. One of Westbere's iconic dragonflies, the Scarce Chaser has started to appear and c6 have been seen walking around the lakes. Hopefully their numbers will begin to increase in the next few days. One of my favourite dragonflies, the Hairy Dragonfly of which I have seen c4 on recent visits continues to be seen mostly flying low up and down the dykes but tonight whilst searching, I was lucky to find a mating pair in the 'wheel' position. I managed to get into a good position and although getting stung by stinging nettles was not fun, it was nice to capture a few pleasing shots. Weather permitting, i'm off to Goring tomorrow near Oxford with Adrian Dowling in the search of a new dragonfly species for the both of us, the Common Club tail Dragonfly. With some help from Paul Ritchie who knows the site well, we hope to maybe see some emerging and you never know, maybe a photo opportunity will come our way if we are lucky!

'Mating' Hairy Dragonflies

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Local Delights

I hadn't intended to go out this morning but after getting up and seeing the sun was out, I went out for a couple of hours to a site near home, just south of Reculver to see what dragonflies were around. I spent the first 30 minutes in the shallows where I found 2 Four spotted exuvia but despite searching, I failed to find any in the process of emerging.

Four spotted Chaser Exuvia

Moving on, I soon heard the beating of wings in the reeds and could see a female Four spotted Chaser climbing up. In this fresh condition, they look just superb and I spent a while studying her at close range and taking a few photos before she warmed up enough and made possibly her first flight.

Four spotted Chaser (female)

 Walking through the grasses produced a few Common Blue Damselfly but Azure and Blue tailed Damselfly were the most numerous damselfly seen. As I searched I found a first for me for this site, a single male Large Red Damselfly which was most surprising but very welcome. I continued on seeing more damselflies and flushed a Broad bodied Chaser and before I left, I thought I would take another look to see if anything was emerging in the shallows. As I got my eye in, I could see lots of damselfly exuvia's clinging to the reeds and further searching revealed lots of nymphs preparing to emerge. Some where already in the process of emerging while others had emerged and were maturing up, it was a site to behold as these new lives were starting up in front of me.

Azure Damselfly Emerging

Although the water was at the top of my wellies and I had a soaked backside from crouching down to try to get a few photos, it was all worth it, just to witness this site. Most of what I could see emerging seemed to be Azure Damselfly and looking at the caudal lamellae seemed to confirm this, however please feel free to correct me if I have got this wrong.

Newly Emerged Azure Damselfly

With this I left for home and a few minutes later was preparing a nice tea and breakfast. Weather permitting, maybe a trip out in the week if the weather allows. If not, I have a few photos i'm sure that I could post!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Odonata Heaven!

The weather forecast did not look that good for today but I had 4 hours to myself from 9.30am where I first made a visit to a site south of Reculver to see what was about. The sun was trying to come through as I walked up to the lake and I checked a few areas to see if anything was emerging. I managed to find 3 Four spotted Chaser exuvia clinging to the reeds but I could not find any in the process of emerging but I will keep checking. A walk around produced quite a few Common Blue Damselfly along with Blue tailed Damselfly. I saw only my second Broad bodied Chaser for this site, a female which showed quite well and allowed a few photographs. With the sun now starting to win the battle I then drove over to Westbere Lakes where I spent 3 hours walking up to the river and west towards Fordwich. One minute I was in beautiful warm sunshine and the next, cloudy skies but eventually the skies did clear to a nice warm morning. It was fantastic to be out searching and there was lots to be seen and photographed. Along the river there were a handful of Banded Demoiselle, a truly stunning insect and the night before I had managed to grab my best efforts I think with this species. It all fell into place, a male in superb condition alighted for me and posed beautifully. I took a number of shots using the flash as the light wasn't that good but I am really pleased with them.

Banded Demoiselle (male)

Back to today and there were hundreds of Variable and Blue tailed Damselfly everywhere. I wouldn't want to estimate them but every step I took along the river they were flying up, superb! Not to be out done, there were good numbers of Azure Damselfly, with 2 Large Red Damselfly also noted. In the sheltered areas I saw 2 Broad bodied Chaser, both males, and I spent some time photographing one and then noticed close by was a resting male Hairy Dragonfly, I really didn't know where to point the camera but took a few shots before he flew off.

Broad bodied Chaser (immature male)

As the Broad bodied Chaser flew up it flushed 3 Scarce Chaser from the dyke and they spent some time perching up and flying around. Again more shots were taken but it was also nice to just sit back and watch the action in front of me. The time had soon passed and I made my way back to the car having spent a cracking 3 hours walking around this superb place. It won't be too long hopefully until the Norfolk Hawkers are emerging. What with Emperors, Brown Hawkers etc to come as well, I really am looking forward to many more visits here to watch and photograph these winged wonders. So far the Canon 7d and Sigma 150mm lens combination seems to be working really well. Lots more photos taken today which I shall post in the next few days i'm sure and fingers crossed, maybe one of my Emperor Dragonfly nymphs will emerge soon and I can capture the emergence.

Hairy Dragonfly (male)

Friday, 15 May 2015

Hairy Moments at Westbere!

With some sunshine and very light winds forecast for the end of the day, I decided after work on a visit to Westbere Lakes to see if any dragonflies were flying and maybe a photo opportunity or two. Arriving at 3.15pm, it was indeed quite bright but the sun never really come through until I was about to leave but the lack of wind meant a pleasant time was had looking for resting dragonflies. With not a lot flying as I started looking around the entrance, I could see a number of Variable and Blue tailed Damselflies at rest and I hoped that if I checked some areas, that I may be lucky enough to find a resting Hairy Dragonfly. After 15 minutes of searching I locked my eyes onto a resting male Hairy Dragonfly and after setting the camera up with the monopod, I set about getting a number of images. With the sun not shining at all, I opted for a few shots without using the flash and a few using the built in flash to get a brighter feel to the shot.

Hairy Dragonfly (male)

As I moved a little nearer the wings started to vibrate and it took off for a few metres before deciding it was not warm enough and thankfully landed on a nice reed with a clean background. I was soon in crawling position and managed a few shots again with and without flash to, not sure which I prefer but I thought I would post both sets.

Hairy Dragonfly (male) flash used

Not long after, he flew off again and out of view and landed again in the reeds where I left him to warm up. I moved on where I spent an hour walking along the river seeing lots of resting Variable, Azure and Blue tailed Damselflies and a few Banded Demoiselle posed nicely for some photos which I shall post over the weekend. Another nice session and although not really sunny, it probably worked in my favour today allowing me to get some images while the dragonflies were at rest. Hopefully an outing over the weekend to see whats about and a few chances to photograph some more dragonflies and damselflies.

Hairy Dragonfly (male) no flash