With a few Red veined Darter still on a private site near Reculver, I decided to give myself one last challenge this year but it was going to be a long shot and required quite a few factors to be on my side. After paying a visit to the site late on Friday, I found 1 Red veined Darter which seemed to be staying in a particular area and as the temperature and light started to fade a bit, I waited for it to go down hopefully to roost. It seemed settled and it was then that I decided that the plan might be on. Whilst I do try to plan some of my shots, this was one plan I was really excited about carrying out and arriving home, I went about the best way to deliver 'that' shot'. A check of the forecast suggested light winds early on and the temperature seemed quite chilly. I was really hoping for some dew to be present as I wanted to not only photograph the darter but what a thrill it would be to capture the early morning dew on this scarce dragonfly. I spent the evening cleaning the camera, preparing the tripod and played around with settings to see what I would use. I had a restless sleep Friday night hoping that the darter was still in position and all my plans would work out the next day. Saturday dawned and I was up early where looking out at the washing line, I could see the spiders webs glistening with dew on them. I prepared my bag and was out of the house soon after where after a minute or so of driving, I arrived at the site. As I walked up the grass was saturated and cobwebs stood out every few feet. The sun had just risen but the area I was going to didn't get the light for a while so I was going to have to use a bit of in camera flash. I carefully approached and checked the area where I had left it the night before but it had gone. I frantically checked and luckily I found it a few feet away and it was indeed looking brilliant as the dew shone from the wings. After removing a few 'nuisance' twigs out of the way, I got set up with the tripod and started to take a few tester shots. I opted for a few settings working between AV mode and Manual mode, both with in camera flash. The background was long green grass a few metres away which made for a clean image. When using AV mode, f8, ISO 400 with flash on the tripod, I got a lovely green background but switching to manual mode, ISO 400, f8-11 and speed set to 250, I ended up with a nearly black background. I took a number of photos on both and got a soaking myself as I lay in the grass with bits of twig, bushes, spiders and all sorts of bugs over me but it was all worthwhile in the end to get some of my best shots to date.
Red veined Darter (immature male)
Sometimes you can just get that shot that you are after but it felt all the more rewarding to get these images having worked quite hard for them. Thankfully, the factors worked in my favour; weather, dew, backgrounds and a showy Darter all made for a superb session. Feeling quite pleased, I moved on for a while where I noted quite a few Common Darter and Migrant Hawker on the wing. I did spent a while looking for exuviae where I found a few old Common Darter exuviae still just about clinging on to the reeds. Now the sun was breaking through nicely I returned to the darter area but by now, he had dried off and had obviously moved off. Hopefully he will make it wherever he needs to migrate too and maybe next year, more Red veined Darters will arrive or emerge from the lake. I like to believe i've taken a few pleasant shots this year but today's efforts are right up there with my best I think.
Red veined Darter (immature male)