Friday, 19 April 2019

Newly Emerged Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense)

After getting back from some birding at Reculver this morning, I went and had a check of the pond and was excited to see that a male Hairy Dragonfly had already emerged and was clinging on to its exuviae in the sunshine. I couldn't let this chance go by so quickly went and got the camera and spent the next 15 minutes or so taking a number of photos. I had collected the nymph during the winter from Nethergong and reared it in the pond with a view that I might be able to see it emerge and capture some photos, but I always try if possible to return the dragonfly or damselfly back to where I collected the nymphs so they can continue their lives as normal. Thankfully, my timing on this occasion was good as I was able to put it on a stick in a large pot and drive it back to Nethergong where I released it next to a large pond. After a quick walk around the area, I returned to check if it was still there but it had already flown off. Hopefully with this warm spell of weather we have at the moment, this will encourage a few more to emerge in the next few days.

Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense) - teneral male with exuviae

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Hairy Night time Encounters!

Over the past few nights, I have been out to my garden pond to see how the Large Red Damselfly nymphs are progressing but whilst out checking the other night, I found a Hairy Dragonfly nymph clinging to one of my pre planted stems with its head and back of the thorax sticking out of the water. Normally this is a sure sign that within a few days, they will normally emerge. Seeing the first Hairy Dragonfly of the season is always a special moment that I look forward to every year. I checked for a few more nights where the nymph remained in position but when I went out last night around 21:15, the nymph had left the water and was in the process of climbing higher up the stem. I stayed back at a distance where I could see what was going on and after seeing the nymph starting to thrash its abdomen around to make sure it had clearance to emerge, I went back indoors to get all the equipment required for a few hours photography. I pre warned the neighbours that they might be some flashing going on (the camera, not me!) and settled down at the pond and... waited. Once settled, the nymph took a while and remained motionless for some time before I could start to see the abdomen starting to move and the thorax area getting bigger. With the camera set up on a tripod low down and a flask with me to have a drink, I was then able to take a number of photos over the next two hours and watch as she entered the world as a female Hairy Dragonfly. Thankfully, the emergence went well and around 23: 40, I decided to call it a night and retired indoors for some well earned sleep. I was up sharpish this morning where when ready, I went back out to the pond where she was still resting up. Having collected this nymph from Nethergong during the winter period, I felt it necessary to return her back to the area where hopefully, she can continue her life successfully. As I have mentioned before, it's truly an amazing spectacle to witness an emergence from start to finish and hopefully, I will be able to capture this scenario again this season with some other species.

Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense) - female emerging

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Another Emergence Captured

With a generally sunny day yesterday and feeling nice in the sheltered area of my garden pond, I was hopeful of another Large Red Damselfly emergence as the previous night had seen a few nymphs clinging to stems just above the water line. I went out quite early to check the pond where the nymphs were still in position and thankfully, one of them had moved higher up the stem and was obviously thinking about emerging. I have potted a few stems in pots which I can move if necessary from time to time to avoid cluttered shots and after the nymph had settled, I slowly moved one of the pots further along the shelf where I had a nice background. Out of the wind, it felt quite warm at times and with everything set up, it was a case of waiting for the action to happen. Every emergence is different with some nymphs going through the process of emerging quickly whilst others take an age to get going. This was a waiting game as it seemed to stay still for quite a while until at last, I could see the familiar movement of the abdomen where the pressure was built up to split the back of the thorax. Its at this stage as it starts to emerge that you hope that the nymph has made a good choice of emerging site and is gripped on well. I see a lot of emergences where as the damselfly starts to emerge, the exuviae moves or slips a little and in the worst scenario, the exuviae falls down all together causing certain death to the stuck damselfly. This emergence seemed to all go well and I was able to once again enjoy and marvel at what was unfolding in front of me. With the camera all set up low on a tripod, I was then able to take a good number of photos of the emergence. I never tire of this sight and photographing this is a real privilege. I went back a little later to see that another one had emerged and they were having brief flights around the pond and landing on the Grape Hyacinths which despite the low light levels, enabled me to take a few more shots. Last night, I went out in the dark with a torch and had a look around the bases of the stems and reeds in the pond and was pleased to see a Hairy Dragonfly nymph with its head and back of thorax out of the water. A sure sign that they will be emerging soon. Fingers crossed for some warmer evenings in the next week which should see the first ones emerging I expect.

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) - female emerging

Monday, 8 April 2019

The Season Awakes

As mentioned in my previous post, I returned home Friday after work in the seemingly warm sunshine and went out in the garden to check the pond and was greeted with the lovely sight of a male Large Red Damselfly. The previous few nights had seen a few nymphs on the surface so I had a good idea that they would emerge soon and given the weather on Friday, it was no surprise really that they should start to emerge. I spent some time laying at the pond just taking in the sighting and after a while, went indoors to get the camera to take a few photos of my first of the year. It took a while for me to be accepted as every time I moved, the damselfly would move around the stem and hide but after a while and with some patience, I was finally rewarded with some lovely unobstructed views and managed to take a number of pleasing images. Up close, they really are stunning little colourful damselflies. With a bit of luck, I still have a few more to emerge and will hopefully be able to photograph another emergence soon as well as keeping an eye out for the Hairy Dragonfly nymphs which should soon be moving into the shallows to start the change of breathing in water to air. I will have to start checking the base of the reeds during the evenings from now on with a torch to see the tell tale head and back of the thorax just sticking above the water line. A real favourite of mine to see. It won't be long now.

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) - male