Tuesday, 24 April 2018

A Male Hairy Dragonfly Emerges

After photographing a number of female Hairy Dragonflies emerge over the past few years, it was a challenge of mine this year to photograph a male emerging and after capturing one last week, I was again in a position a few nights ago when another male decided to emerge on a still mild night from the pond. I initially went out around 9.30pm and saw a nymph already starting to climb up and decided that as it was a nice night, I would have a go at capturing the emergence. After preparing the area, I let the nymph settle down before moving in slowly and set up. Often this stage can take a while as the nymph settles and occasionally thrashes its abdomen around to make sure there is enough clearance to emerge. I have seen them at this stage move so violently that they fall back into the water from a height but on this occasion, thankfully the nymph held on tight. Its this time that the excitement for me kicks in when the final act of transforming from nymph to dragonfly takes place. With the garden in darkness and falling silent, I was treated to another excellent emergence which lasted a couple of hours to complete and another set of photos obtained. As well as taking many photos in between drinks of coffee from the flask, I make sure I always make time to study what is happening and enjoy the natural wonder that is unfolding in front of me. It simply never gets tiring and I hope I get to see and photograph many more emergences from other species. Around 11.30pm, I decided to call it a night and ventured back indoors but was up again early the next morning to take a few more photos before taking the dragonfly to the site where I collected the nymph and released it. While I have taken a number of photos of the emergence of different species, there's something special about seeing a Hairy Dragonfly emerge. A sign to me that the dragonfly season has arrived.
 



 
 
 






 Emerging Hairy Dragonfly (male)
 
 Hairy Dragonfly (male)



  

Saturday, 21 April 2018

The Dragonfly Season Begins

Having collected and reared a few Hairy Dragonfly nymphs over the winter in my garden pond, I have been keeping a close on them during the past few days after dark with a torch where I have noticed a few of them starting to come to the surface to start the transition of breathing in water to air. When they are nearly ready to emerge, you can start to see the colours of the dragonfly showing through the larval skin so it was no surprise last night when I went out to the pond after dark to see one of the nymphs on a reed with its head sticking out. With a mild night and little if any wind, it seemed a good night to emerge and after checking a few times more, the nymph started to climb higher up the reed. This was my cue to go and get the camera, tripod, mat to lay on, warm clothing and a flask to keep me warm. Having warned the neighbours that there could be some flashing going on soon (from the camera, not me), I settled into a position away from the pond to allow the nymph to find a good emerging position and once settled, I moved in slowly to set up everything. I had made it a challenge this year to try and photograph a male Hairy Dragonfly emerging and little did I know, my challenge was about to be met. The nymph spent a while as they do making sure everything was alright and likewise, I made sure the camera was in a good position and how the shots would look. Not long after, one of nature's miracles started to happen when the nymph started to emerge and I then spent the next hour and a half at least taking a set of photos of the whole emergence. Normally, the newly emerged dragonfly rests on the exuviae which makes for a nice shot but with an active frog below moving in amongst the reeds, the dragonfly moved further up and found a new position. This made me miss a few photo opportunities but I was soon firing shots off again once it had settled. With enough photos taken and the time around 23.30, I packed up and hoped I could take a few more photos in the morning. I was up early this morning and after dressing, went out to the pond where I could see the male Hairy Dragonfly resting up on the reeds. It wasn't long until the sun come out and it opened its wings where I was able to take a good number of photos against the backdrop of Grape Hyacinths. I will post a few more of these photos in due coarse as I think they deserve their own post. Before completely warming up, I collected the Hairy Dragonfly and put it in a small box where I then drove the few minutes where I collected the nymph from and released it. When I got back home, another male had started to emerge and although I missed some of it, I took a few photos and made time to sit and study this marvel happening before my eyes. With a few more to hopefully emerge in the next few days, I'm hopeful I can take another emergence set to better these and fingers crossed, I get another chance to photograph a male emerging. An unbelievable spectacle to witness and photograph and if you haven't seen an emergence, I suggest you get up early one morning and go looking for yourselves. You will not be disappointed.  
 









Hairy Dragonfly (male) Emerging 

Hairy Dragonfly (male)


Monday, 16 April 2018

Amongst the Grape Hyacinths

With some warm sunshine yesterday (Sunday) afternoon in east Kent, I spent an hour at my garden pond where there are currently a few Large Red Damselflies resting up in some of the reeds. As I have mentioned before, the pond as well as a suitable habitat for a few species that I have reared in there over the past few years is also set up for photography and this time of year produces Grape Hyacinths which are growing to the side of the pond. These plants produce some superb colours against the damselfly and I managed to find a male resting up which gave me the perfect opportunity to lay down and spend some time taking a number of photos. As readers of my website and blog will know, I am always striving to improve on my shots from year to year and having waited all through the winter months for the season to arrive, I was keen to make the most of this time while the damselflies and Grape Hyacinths are at their peak condition. Whilst I have taken many photos of this species, I personally feel that these are my best attempts to date. The colours of the Grape Hyacinths contrasting with the Large Red Damselfly work really well in my opinion and with the subtle colours of them in the background, make for some pleasing photos. I hope there will be a few more attempts with this colourful species in the next few weeks but I think I may well struggle to raise the bar and better these.
 








Large Red Damselfly (male)


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Addictive Adders!

Having only seen my first ever wild Adders a few weeks ago, I was keen to get back for another visit but the great British weather had other ideas with persistent rain, fog, murk etc during the past week preventing me from making that visit. Finally, Saturday dawned with the forecast looking good and I arrived at the site at 9am in beautiful sunshine just as Julian and Alex Perry had arrived. We made our way to the area concerned and within minutes had found 3 Adders already basking out in the sunshine. We spent the next 6 hours on site finding a total of 5 Adders, 3 females and 2 males which gave us plenty of time to study and photograph them in their natural habitat. If you used a bit of fieldcraft and were patient, some lovely views were on offer as I once again found myself hypnotised by them and their subtle markings. It was interesting on one occasion to see some dog walkers approaching with a dog and some distance away, the Adder must have felt the vibrations of them approaching and was soon off at speed back into cover. A sure sign that they will do anything within reason to get into any sort of confrontation. The time went surprisingly very quickly and with hundreds of photos taken and another superb experience in their company, we headed back off mid afternoon back to the cars. The weather looks pretty good all week and hopefully, I might have another visit next weekend to see them again. They are very addictive I can assure you. I don't know much of their lifestyle which I will need to learn about but I'm told they will move off soon to other areas to continue their secretive lifestyle.
 


 Adder (female)
 
 Adder (male)
 


 Adder (female)
 
 Adder (male)
 
 Adder (female)
 
 Adder (male)
 

 Adder (female)
 

 Adder (male)
 

Adder (female)