Saturday, 25 June 2016

Reaping the Rewards at Westbere

Its that time of the year again where I seem to get quite obsessed with the Norfolk Hawker, who wouldn't though if this national rarity was on your doorstep. I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon at Westbere Lakes in warm sunshine where I was treated to at least 16 Norfolk Hawker which included c10 in both left and right hand dykes just north of the river. With a bit of time on my hands, it was nice at times to just sit back and watch them and in doing this, get to learn about their habits etc. As I walked the dykes during late afternoon, I come across 3 mating pairs which gave me the chance to fire off a number of photos and also saw 2 females ovipositing in the dyke, their rattling wings in the reeds drawing attention to their whereabouts. With a good amount of perching males holding territory, this gave me the chance to obtain a few more photos but also try for a few flight shots. As most will know, this is not the easiest challenge as in a second or two, you have got to lock onto the dragonfly in flight, focus and fire off shots. Most shots end up either out of focus, bits of body and wings missing, blank screens or wrong settings but every now and then you get lucky. I would like to think that the perseverance put in paid off for the shots I did get and I was quite pleased with them. However, I shall be back for more to try and improve on these if thats possible. Other dragonflies noted were 6 Scarce Chaser, 3 Hairy Dragonflies, a few Red eyed Damselfly, lots of Blue tailed Damselfly and good numbers of Banded Demoiselle along the river. With a few hundred shots taken, I decided to call it a day and made my way back to the car. No doubt a few more visits to be made if I can make the time and the weather allows after work or during weekends but I expect I will put up a few more blog posts in the next week or so on these superb dragonflies, I certainly have enough photos to go through!





Norfolk Hawker (mating pair) 



 Norfolk Hawker (Pair in tandem)

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Back to Norfolk!

With some sunshine and light winds forecast for late afternoon, I thought I would take a walk at Westbere Lakes to search the dykes for Norfolk Hawkers. On arrival at 3.45pm, it was a little cloudy and breezy although quite humid which I hoped would still make the dragonflies quite active. I spent about 90 minutes searching the dykes seeing 4 Norfolk Hawkers but by this time of year, I would of have expected more. I suspect with the dykes getting a little choked that they are inhabiting the many other dykes in the area. Around 5pm the sun broke through and it felt quite hot which encouraged a few Hawkers to become more active and start to perch up in the dykes. I spent a while hoping that one would land in an accessible place and after a few walks up and down searching, one finally landed quite near at a superb angle allowing me to grab a few pleasing efforts.

Norfolk Hawker (male)

With my 'shot of the day' in the bag, I made my way back  seeing 1 Hairy Dragonfly, 1 Banded Demoiselle and a few Damselflies. Hopefully over the weekend, I can have a look at a few other areas around Westbere Lakes to see if any other Norfolk Hawkers are to be found and if I find an obliging male on territory, maybe attempt a few flight shots.

Norfolk Hawker (male)

Monday, 20 June 2016

Dragonfly Fix on Fathers Day!

With a family day planned as it was Fathers Day yesterday, I was keen to get out at some point as the sun was shining and it felt warm. I didn't think I was going to be able to make it but at 4pm, I had a couple of hours to myself and decided that I would make a visit to Westbere Lakes to see if any Norfolk Hawkers were in the dykes. On arrival at 4.15pm, it was a little cloudy and the wind had picked up but I felt confident that a Hawker or two would still be active. I walked up to the dykes and soon found a male Norfolk Hawker perched up which allowed me to fire off a few pleasing efforts before he was off and patrolling the dyke again.


Norfolk Hawker (male)

Walking on I soon found another Norfolk Hawker in flight but with the wind blowing quite strong now, they didn't seem to hang around much and were easily lost to view for a while, before reappearing again a few seconds later. With a few shots in the bag and my dragonfly fix for the day had, I slowly walked back but as I did so, I could hear the sound of buzzing wings in the reeds. As I scanned the area, I picked out a mating pair of Norfolk Hawker on the other side of the dyke. Not the idea shot and angle but these opportunities cannot be turned down so a few shots were taken.

Norfolk Hawker (mating pair)

Great to see them mating and hopefully the females will be busily egg laying to keep the cycle moving for years to come. A brief but rewarding session and hopefully a few more visits there in the next few weeks to see if I can capture some more pleasing photographs.

Norfolk Hawker (male)

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Hairy Dragonfly Exuviae

As readers of this site will know, as well as studying and photographing dragonflies and damselflies, I have a particular passion for finding and photographing the exuviae of the species I encounter, the shed larval skin left behind when the dragonfly emerges. They can be very tricky to find a times and can be in positions that don't lend themselves to photography but unlike the dragonflies and damselflies, they don't fly away and can provide great photo opportunities when you find them. More often than not, they are in cluttered positions that don't provide ideal photos but I was lucky to find a pristine Hairy Dragonfly exuviae on a reed that I removed from a heavily vegetated area. I set about trying to get my best shots of this exuviae that not only showed it in a natural setting with reeds as background but captured the detail of this delicate, yet quite robust exuviae. I positioned the reed with exuviae on at the edge of the water making sure through the viewfinder of the camera, that I could see the subtle green colours of the reed which I hoped would set off the exuviae well. I then spent some time rattling off some shots which I must say, I am really pleased with. Quite often with dragonfly and damselfly photography, you have to grab 'that' shot when the time arises, but its always nice to be able to spend some time without rushing photographing otherwise generally unseen exuviae which most of us walk by without even knowing its there. Next time you are out at a pond or lake, pull back the reeds and take a look. You may find another world in there waiting to be found.




Hairy Dragonfly Exuviae