For at least 3 years, I have wanted to visit Whixall Moss in Shropshire to see one of England's rarest dragonflies, the White faced Darter and a species I have never seen before. For one reason or not, I have never gone and suspect that the four hour drive has put me off but during the winter of 2015, I hatched a plan with fellow dragonfly enthusiast Paul Ritchie to make plans to visit Whixall Moss. Nearing the time, the weather did not look very favorable so we moved our visit to Sunday 5th June which looked excellent weather wise. I left home early at 4am and after a long but pleasant drive, arrived at Whixall at 8am where after getting ready and having a drink and something to eat, I wandered on down towards the entrance. Paul and Sue Ritchie soon arrived and with the sun already warming up nicely, we walked on down to look at the boggy pools. Good numbers of Large Red Damselfly and Azure Damselfly were seen on the walk down and not long after we arrived at some pools. A brief search did not produce any darters so we wandered on down to the 'target pool' where we had reliable information that this pool was the place to be. Well, what can I say but wow, wow and wow again. We spent about five hours at this pool where we were treated to c30 White faced Darter including males, a few females, mating pairs and stunning views of this little stunner. Having not seen them before, it made it extra special to see them and both Paul and I were soon into some serious camera action. We were joined later by Mike and Jerry who joined in the camera fest and between us, we were soon filling our boots again. Being a dark dragonfly, it was at times quite tricky to get the light right and being a darter, they were often hard to approach and soon whizzed off. I tried for a few flight shots which for most of the time, were near on impossible due to their speed but I did get lucky with one attempt which ended up being one of my shots of the day.
White faced Darters (male)
White faced Darters (mating pair)
With numerous drink breaks thrown in to keep the energy levels high and time spent collecting White faced Darter exuviae which I shall photograph and post in due coarse, the time went quite quickly. The pool also had good numbers of Four spotted Chasers and I also saw my first ever Large Heath butterflies with four seen flying past and 2 Raft Spiders were seen on the pool. I had spent quite a while during the day looking for a White faced Darter emerging but hadn't found any but late afternoon, Jerry found one which had just emerged and was still clinging on to its exuviae. What a great sight to see and despite the sun being in our faces which was not ideal for photos, I rattled off a few shots. With a good few hundred shots taken and a four hour drive to do, I said my goodbyes to Paul, Sue, Mike and Jerry and made my way back to the car, not before having one last good look at a male White faced Darter posing on a stick and just enjoying the moment. What a superb day had in great company and many thanks to Paul Ritchie for helping organise the trip and getting information on the site etc. A memorable day that I will not forget in a long while, magic! No apologies for the number of photos and I shall post some exuviae shots in the next few days I expect when I get a moment.
White faced Darters (mating pair)
White faced Darter (male)
White faced Darter (teneral male)