For the past two years at least, I have wanted to photograph the iconic first dragonfly of the year that flies in the UK, the Hairy Dragonfly. I spent quite a bit of time last year trying to find individuals emerging early morning but only found a few exuviae of this species. I decided last winter to see if I could collect a few and rear them indoors in my indoor tank and at the right time, release them back into my garden pond ready for emergence. Like an expectant father, I have nurtured them through the winter, feeding them, changing water and observing and photographing them. I have learnt a great deal about this species but the hope was that I would be able to photograph this miracle of nature as it changes from nymph to dragonfly. Most literature I have read suggest that they emerge early morning but it was a great surprise last night when at about 9pm when I checked the pond, that I saw a nymph climbing the reed. I quickly set about getting all the equipment ready and armed with a flask, I positioned my self at the pond and settled in for what ended up to be 3 hours of watching and photographing. I was still sat in the garden at midnight but it was most definitely worth the time and effort to produce some of my finest shots yet I think. Just watching the process of emergence is truly fascinating but quite time consuming but I went to bed on cloud nine and hoped she would still be present early morning which she was. Before going to work, I took a few more shots and after she has warmed up, she made her maiden flight. Its so rewarding having had this plan and carried it through and along the way, shared the life of this secretive dragonfly through to being an adult. If I don't take any better photos this year, I will not be complaining, well I might, but I am over the moon with this set and achieved a long awaited challenge.
Hairy Dragonfly Emerging (female)
Hairy Dragonfly (female)