As mentioned in the last post, I was lucky to catch a Willow Emerald Damselfly nymph a few days ago and as well as photographing this in a tank at home, I was hoping that I might be able to photograph the whole emergence. This would be a first for me and a look through the internet didn't reveal much at all in the way of shots of this species emerging, so this would possibly be a British first if I was to succeed. I had hoped that the nymph would emerge early morning in the sunshine from the tank I had put it in but as is often the case in nature, the nymph had other ideas. I went out into the garden last night about 10.30pm to check where the nymph was before I went to bed and was surprised to see it had climbed up one of the stalks I had put in the tank. I went into panic mode but thankfully all the equipment I needed was within easy reach in the conservatory. I quickly set up the tripod and got myself settled in for what I hoped would be a rare sight of the Willow Emerald Damselfly emerging. I assumed that the nymph would emerge early morning and was quite shocked that it was emerging at this time of the night but, maybe like Hawkers, they prefer to emerge under the cover of darkness so they can fly off before light to the trees. By now, everyone around was in bed and I was still sitting in the garden in the pitch black. The nymph took an age to prepare to emerge, constantly changing the positioning of the legs, moving up and down the stalk and violent whips of the tail to see if there was enough room to emerge. Finally, the nymph become motionless for some time as it prepared to emerge and I was able to make sure I had the right settings for the job. As it was dark I had to use in camera flash and settings used were manual mode, ISO 400, speed set to 250 and f16-f18. A few tester images seemed alright and at least with the camera on the tripod, I could kind of rest. After a period of being still, I could slowly see the thorax starting to break and at 12.42am, the damselfly started the process of emerging. I then spent the next seventy minutes taking a number of photos of the different stages of the emergence, making plenty of time to actually watch and take in the miracle that was happening before my very eyes. Thankfully, the conditions were good for photos and I was able to take a number of really pleasing images. The more I witness an emergence, the more I think about the year(s) they have spent underwater and what they have gone through to get to this stage. Its just brilliant to be able to witness this, let alone photograph it. With every normal person tucked up in bed asleep, I was able to see the whole process through and just before 2am, I decided I was quite tired and made my way indoors. I hoped that I could get up early however to get a few more photos of the Willow Emerald Damselfly after it had coloured up. I don't know how but I was up at 6am and was soon back in the garden where thankfully, the damselfly was still in position. I spent about fifteen minutes taking a few photos before not surprisingly, I went back to bed for a short while. Again, what a privilege to be able to photograph this nationally rare damselfly and who knows, maybe the only enthusiast in this country to have photographed the whole emergence of a Willow Emerald Damselfly. After getting up again, I got ready and took the Willow Emerald Damselfly back to Nethergong where I released her where she was found where I hope she can continue her adult life. I really hope you enjoy the photos, just as much as I did taking them.
'Emerging' Willow Emerald Damselfly (female)
'Teneral' Willow Emerald Damselfly (female)
Willow Emerald Damselfly Exuviae