Monday, 30 August 2021

Migrants Everywhere!

My last few visits to Nethergong have seen an increase in Migrant Hawker numbers. From mid morning when the temperatures start to rise, good numbers can be found either hanging up in the grasses or bare branches on the trees or flying around sheltered areas. This has given me the opportunity to take a number of images of the immatures through to the mature adults. With some basic fieldcraft, I am often able to get quite close to them in the morning before they warm up.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - immature male

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) -  female

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - male

With the Southern Migrant Hawker season coming to an end and with the dried up pool receiving a good bit of rain last week, the Migrant Hawkers have moved in and even seen ovipositing at times. This will make dipping interesting next year if I encounter both species next year as nymphs. I have also managed to encounter a few Emperor Dragonfly which have so far eluded the camera this year so it was nice a few days ago to find a male patrolling which at times, flew in and perched. I surprisingly was able to get quite close and capture a few images showing some nice detail. I did have a brief spell Sunday where I was attempting a few flight shots of Migrant Hawkers but have not looked at them yet so all being well, my next post may include a few flights shots of this species. 

Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) - male

Friday, 27 August 2021

Camping with Dragons!

Along with a few friends, we have spent 4 days camping at Nethergong during the past week where in the sunshine at times, I have been able to spend a few hours walking around the site looking and photographing the dragonflies and damselflies which are on the wing. I was hoping to make a few high counts of Willow Emerald Damselflies but with strong winds most days, this was not possible. I'm hoping in the next week or so to be able to do this but it will be back to weekends soon as I will be back at work next week. Dragonflies noted during the stay included 1 Southern Migrant Hawker, c30 Migrant Hawker, c60 Willow Emerald Damselfly seen at various points but many areas were not checked due to the winds. There were c20 Emerald Damselfly, 3 Emperor Dragonfly, 1 Southern Hawker and a few Ruddy and Common Darter. I have made many a joke over the years of failing every year to photograph a Brown Hawker as I think personally that this species has to be one of the hardest to photograph. I did photograph a male at range which at the time was better than nothing but on one afternoon, I noticed a female working along the ditch ovipositing every now and then. Up ahead I could see a small log floating on the far side a few metres away so made my way there and sat opposite and hoped that it would pause and egg lay here. It was a few minutes later and me sitting still that she flew in and landed on the log and started to egg lay. This was my best opportunity and although the background was pretty noisy, I settled in for a few minutes as she made her way around the log. I managed a handful of pleasing images and at least, I now had a few shots of a Brown Hawker. Aside to the photos, It was nice to be able to study the detail on this species.

Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) - female ovipositing 

In a few sheltered warm spots a few Willow Emerald Damselfly were resting up and without the harsh sunlight here, it was nice to capture a few images of one of my favourite species. During the stay, I also managed a few shots of a male Emperor Dragonfly as well as some Migrant Hawker shots which I shall post in due coarse. 

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - male

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - female

Monday, 16 August 2021

Dreaming of Gold!

It's been about six years since I last saw Golden ringed Dragonfly in Kent (a scarce species in Kent) so when I heard that Barry Wright and James Hunter had seen a few at a site in west Kent, I was keen to see if I was able to visit. After getting directions from Barry and with the forecast looking good for Sunday, I decided to give it a go and thankfully, Sunday dawned sunny and I set off about 10am. About 45 minutes later and in the middle of nowhere, I eventually pulled up at a bridge overlooking a small stream. Immediately I could see Banded and Beautiful Demoiselles flying around. We don't get Beautiful Demoiselle in east Kent so it was nice to see this species again. After having a drink and getting the camera ready, I stood at the bridge again and waited. It must have only been a few minutes before a male Golden ringed Dragonfly flew up the stream showing nicely. I had forgotten how stunning they were. I was happy to just see one but if a photo could be obtained, that would be a bonus. As I continued to watch up the stream through the binoculars, I could see a Golden ringed Dragonfly patrolling an area which it seemed quite loyal too. I slowly made my way through the vegetation and carefully sat down at the waters edge and scanned again. It wasn't long until he passed again and then perched up. I just had to have a look first through the binoculars at close range and take in the stunning colours and detail on this dragonfly before the camera could not wait any longer and I set about trying to get some images... without also trying to fall in as I was delicately perched. I spent the next hour and a half watching at least 3 Golden ringed Dragonfly patrolling up and down with two perching occasionally where I was able to get some pleasing images. Add plenty of Beautiful and Banded Demoiselle, Common Darter, 1 Brown Hawker, 1 Southern Hawker and of course the lovely sound of a trickling stream serenading you, this was my idea of heaven. I barely saw or heard anyone in my time there. What a stunning part of Kent and hopefully I can return next year to see them again and not leave it so long. I didn't know if photos were going to be on the cards as Barry said the site was hard to see from but after just sitting there and being accepted by them, I was really pleased with the photos I managed to get, and to see the Golden ringed Dragonfly again in Kent was definitely a 'wow' moment.  

Golden ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) - male

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Early Morning Willows

The bonus when getting up early for a sunrise session with the damselflies is that when you are done with silhouette shots, you can simply walk around the other side and photograph with the sun behind you. As the sun is still low in the sky, this creates some stunning early morning colours in the shots. I was able to set up the tripod again and take a number of photos of the male and female Willow Emerald Damselflies before they got too active as it was soon warming up. They moved around the flower providing a few opportunities before they both soon took to the wing and were off into the longer grasses. It's also nice to photograph them side by side so that the differences can be seen between them. My last few sessions have seen a good number still emerging and I will start to make a few counts in the coming weeks. I have also found a new area to search which provided a few more the other day so I am hopeful of a good count soon.

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - male (left) female (right)

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - male (left) female (right)

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - male (top) female (bottom)

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - male

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - female

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - female

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - male