Thursday, 24 April 2014

I Like My Ladies 'Hairy'!

Well actually, I must just state that the title is not actually true. It refers to a female Hairy Dragonfly that I was watching near the river today at Westbere Lakes. After a while of patrolling the small ditch that it was in, it eventually landed low down and I made my way towards it for some hopeful shots. More often than not, male Hairy Dragonflies are often seen so I was pleased that a female had landed for a change. After a bit of stalking I was able to get quite near and take a number of shots of this beauty. These probably represent the best I have so far of a female Hairy Dragonfly and the results were quite pleasing.

Female Hairy Dragonfly

Before I had ventured to the river I had already seen 1 male Hairy Dragonfly, c80 Variable Damselflies, they seemed to be everywhere and no doubt there are hundreds more around. Also seen were c20 Blue tailed Damselflies and my first Azure Damselfly of the year. I did get a few shots of the Azure but I think I can do better with this species so I will hold fire with these shots for the time being. Again only a brief session but thats sometimes all it needs to make the day worthwhile. Not sure if the weather tomorrow afternoon will allow for another visit but we shall keep the fingers crossed!

Female Hairy Dragonfly

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Getting My Daily Fix!

With the sun shining again after work I called into Westbere Lakes to see what dragonflies and butterflies were on the wing. Just inside the entrance I come across the first Variable and Blue tailed Damselflies today and 1 Peacock was busily chasing away every other butterfly that passed. I walked up to the river junction where on the way I managed to see 1 Hairy Dragonfly, c50 Variable and c20 Blue tailed Damselflies. With the temperature starting to drop now I wandered on back to the entrance where luckily a male Orange Tip was looking for somewhere to roost and thankfully it landed just in front of me. I didn't need any excuses to start firing away with the camera and managed a few pleasing shots, despite the sun going in and the light not being brilliant. These butterflies have got to be on the best for their underwing pattern, its just amazing. With a few shots in the bag I left him in peace and returned back to the car. I only had about half an hour out but that was enough of a fix to see what brilliant wildlife we have on our doorstep.

Male Orange Tip

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

After Work at Westbere

With the sun shining after work I drove down to Westbere Lakes to see if any dragonflies were to be seen. I had only just gone inside the entrance where there is a nice warm sun trap when I saw a small damselfly on the wing. Focusing with the camera I could see it was a Variable Damselfly my first of the year and a look in the general area in the next 30 minutes or so produced c15 Variable Damselflies. I find these quite tricky to id when they first emerge but a few obvious features were noted when I set about getting some shots with the macro lens. I was concerned that I would not get near enough as these damselflies can be very hard to approach but with a bit of patience I was able to get a number of shots from a nice range.

Variable Damselfly

Also on the wing were c10 Blue tailed Damselflies, also my first sighting of this species this year although I'm sure there are probably a lot more on the wing as I only looked in a small area. As well as a few obvious males I also saw a few females of the form rufescens. Again a few shots were taken with a few not turning out too bad at all.

Female Blue tailed Damselfly 

Female Blue tailed Damselfly (form rufescens)

A quick walk on produced c7 Large Red Damselflies and 1 Hairy Dragonfly was resting in the sun. A brief but rewarding session and nice to add a couple of species for the year.

Monday, 21 April 2014

A Few Good Birds and Damselflies!

I was up and out of the house this morning at 5.30am where a few minutes later I was listening for a Nightingale but without any luck and so onwards to Beltinge where I then walked the cliffs in the hope of a Grasshopper Warbler but despite nice conditions I drew a blank here. All was not bad though for as I walked back I caught the sound of a Nightingale singing and waiting a while I was treated to the lovely song of this bird. With the sun coming up I parked up at the towers and walked down to Coldharbour and inland to Chambers Wall before returning. There was a lovely sunrise giving me time to be artistic with the camera and catch it as it rose through Reculver Towers.

Sunrise through Reculver Towers

It was a good morning for the birds with a few good species seen including 17 Whitethroat, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 4 Shelduck, 3 Sand Martin, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 24 Oystercatcher, 4 Sandwich Tern and a Tree Pipit flew west calling. There were 15 Swallow, the 2nd Nightingale of the morning singing at the Poplars, 3 Bar tailed Godwit, 2 Gannet, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Greenshank was heard, 12 Common Scoter, 2 Marsh Harrier, 2 adult Mediterranean Gull flew east, 2 Grey Partridge and 1 Yellowhammer. With the sun shining I then drove over to Westbere where I wanted another go at the Large Red Damselflies. I had a few plans up my sleeve with settings, backgrounds etc and was soon looking around the pond for them. I must have seen c10 Large Red Damselflies with a few newly emerged and drying out. This gave me the opportunity again to practice with the macro lens. I was trying to concentrate on the backgounds so the damselfly stood out a bit and subjects that would allow me to use the bean bag to prevent shake.

Large Red Damselfly

I was quite pleased with the results and as I have mentioned this will probably be my easiest quest as they are very approachable. Before I left I saw a larvae leaving the water in preparation to emerge and watched a few emerging.

Large Red Damselfly Larvae

Unfortunately most of this happened on the other side of the pond but what an education to watch this for the first time. Back to work tomorrow so I will leave you with a few more shots from today. Maybe if the weather allows, I may be able to make a brief visit out during the week!

Large Red Damselfly