Sunday, 4 June 2023

Cloudy Rewards

Back to Westbere Lakes a few days ago for a couple of hours in quite cloudy but bright conditions but still with the very annoying northerly wind. Knowing that a lot would not be flying I made my way up to the river where I hoped to find a few resting dragonflies sheltering out of the wind. It didn't take long for Banded Demoiselles to start to flutter up from the nettles and a few Scarce Chaser were also seen. I quite like a bright cloudy day sometimes as it helps with photography and you tend to get more natural colours rather than burnt out shot sometimes. I was able to find a couple of resting Scarce Chaser that weren't going far and move in quite close with the macro to take a few pleasing images. It was nice to be able to study the fine detail on the wings at close range and not have to panic about it flying off quickly. After a few shots were in the bag I moved off to try to find a few Banded Demoiselle, one of my favourite subjects to photograph. Although cloudy, they were still on high alert and never let me get that close. Perseverance paid off though eventually when I found an individual resting nicely over the pathway at waist height. I was sure it was going to fly off but I was able to move in pretty close and take a few images. They really are stunning and as quick as I had enjoyed the moment, he soon took to the wing and flew off into the reeds. Walking back I saw a few Variable, Azure and Blue tailed Damselflies at rest which was pleasant. Yesterday (Saturday) I led a tour for Kent Wildlife Trust at Oare Marshes to look for the Dainty Damselfly. Although quite sunny in the end and warm, the nagging northerly wind really made us work quite hard. Eventually we did manage to find c6 Dainty Damselfly keeping low in the grasses out of the wind. Also seen were 2 Scarce Emerald Damselfly, 5 Hairy Dragonfly including 3 small nymphs of this species and a few Variable, Azure and Blue tailed Damselfly. Mission accomplished and all went home fairly happy I think. Back to work tomorrow so no doubt it will be sunny, warm and the wind will drop this week now. Hopefully next weekend I can get out again to find some more Dainty Damselflies and Norfolk Hawkers.  

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) - female

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) - male

Wednesday, 31 May 2023

The Chase Is On!

A walk at Westbere a few days ago once again in the seemingly persistent northerly wind made for some tough going in finding and photographing the dragonflies and damselflies. It does seem at the moment that every visit wherever I go is ruined by the weather. Whilst sunshine is very welcome, I also don't mind it being cloudy but bright as this can often produce the best photos with the sun burning out the shots. The wind however, makes it very challenging to photograph as you can imagine. I spent some time the other day photographing a few Scarce Chaser in the sheltered areas and managed to take a few pleasing efforts. They really are a stunning dragonfly and it was nice to find a few immature males starting to colour up. It won't be long until the blue males are patrolling. I did try for a few Banded Demoiselle shots which really are some of my favourites and whilst I took a few, I will be back to spent some time trying to capture this cracking species. Fingers crossed this wind starts to calm down and change direction. It would be nice to not have to wear the winter clothing in the Spring!

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) - immature male

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) - female

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) - immature male

Monday, 29 May 2023

Hairy Posers!

A visit to Westbere Lakes again over the past couple of days in sunny but still a very annoying northerly wind made it quite hard going but out of the wind, there were plenty of dragonflies and damselflies to see. There were good numbers of Variable, Azure, Blue tailed and Red eyed Damselflies around as well as 1 broad bodied Chaser and good numbers of Banded Demoiselle. A good check of likely areas produced and excellent 41 Scarce Chaser of differing ages and a few photos were taken which I shall post in due coarse. There were 7 Hairy Dragonfly with a couple of males posing beautifully in the sunshine and with a bit of ninja stealth, I was able to get into a few positions to take a few shots. I did have a good check to see whether any Norfolk Hawkers were to be seen but not yet. They would have emerged by now I suspect and are probably maturing up away from the water. Hopefully a visit this week will produce a few. I did however see my first Norfolk Hawker yesterday (28th) at Nethergong which I accidently flushed from the long grasses which then landed on the other side of the stream. He looked in immaculate condition and begs the question again whether they have bred on site this year in the streams. 

Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense) - male

Thursday, 25 May 2023

Dainty Damselflies Emerging

With sunny weather and light winds forecast for yesterday (Wednesday) I decided on a trip to Oare Marshes in Faversham to see whether any Dainty Damselfly had emerged yet. Being that the site is along the seawall, it really does need to be a light wind to have any chance of finding them. Arriving just after 8:30am, I slowly made my way to the site and was quite optimistic of finding a few. I soon set about walking through the long grass next to the pool and it wasn't long until a damselfly took flight and soon landed again. A quick look through the binoculars confirmed it was a female Dainty Damselfly, the first of c12 Dainty Damselfly seen. It was then a case of trying to capture a few images which with patience, I think I achieved. Moving on and continually checking I found a few immature males and then a few males which were colouring up nicely. Again with patience and edging in slowly, I was able to capture some pleasing shots showing off the features needed to identify this species. Every now and then, an Azure or Variable would arrive and it was quite noticeable of the size difference compared to the Dainty. A check of the breeding pool every now and then revealed a few damselflies emerging which I expect were Dainty Damselfly but a little too far to be sure. It was nice every now and then to just put the camera down and spend some time studying their features and behaviour. It's good to keep educating yourself. There were a few females which had me scratching my head which showed all the features but a slightly darker pterostigma. I'm hoping my angle on the shots may have effected this lighting issue. After a couple of hours and a few shots taken, I decided to call it a day and walked back to the car seeing 1 Hairy Dragonfly and 1 Four spotted Chaser on the way. I am running a Dainty Damselfly tour in 2 weeks time at Oare Marshes and places are still available by clicking on the link:

Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - male 

Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - female