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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Their Imperial Highnesses - on 15th July, 2015

My pal, John (see footnote to this post), had told me of a fishing pond behind his property, where Emperor dragonflies were present. I've been pretty-much tied up with domestic projects lately but feeling a little stir crazy and it being fine weather, I decided to take a couple of hours or so out, and visit the location, calling in at my local patch to talk to the farmer first.

As I was not sure how long I'd be at the farm (about three quarters of an hour as it turned out) I'd not said anything to John about my visit, but was going to give him a call when I got there. To our amusement, John had arrived there just a couple of minutes before me!

I'm pretty sure that I'll have seen an Emperor dragonfly before my interest got well and truly sparked by the Odonata, and I'm 95% certain that I saw one by a different fishing lake on 24th June when my wife and I went out to lunch to celebrate our wedding anniversary, but I've never photographed one.

One was instantly spotted when we started to look, but in an inaccessible place. We took a wander around the perimeter of the pond, and spent a good half hour trying to photograph a male specimen. It seems however that this quick-flying species rarely settles, and we were having no luck at all capturing one in flight at a great distance.

Even when one came much closer, and started to interact at high speed with a Four-spotted Chaser, we just couldn't get it in frame for long enough to achieve focus. I mentioned to John that, at this rate, our best chance was to hope for an oviposting female. I did get some shots, however, of the Chaser, which I believe, by the shape of its anal appendages (I'd never have guessed I'd use that expression in writing!) to be an immature male - please correct me if I'm wrong. Update:- I've been told by my good friend Noushka, who knows about such things, that this is a fully mature male. I've modified the caption accordingly. Thank you, Noushka!


Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) (male) - near Ibstock
After probably 15 minutes or more of trying, John suggested moving round the pond by around 45 degrees as he'd previously observed that they slow down somewhat when flying into the wind. This proved to be inspirational as a  male Emperor was soon spotted which seemed to habitually slow down when it got in front of us. I had to choose between high ISO (= noise, but faster shutter speed to freeze wing movement) and low ISO (a clean image for detail, but with movement blur). I went for 1000 ISO, which is about as high as I can push it without serious noise and significant loss of detail kicking in!



Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) (male) - near Ibstock
I was still trying to get more images of the male Emperor when John beckoned me to where he was. There, close in, and hidden from my original position by reeds, was an oviposting female Emperor! 



Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) (female) - near Ibstock
At one point there was a brief aerial interaction between the female and the male but it all happened too quickly for us to capture. After a solid hour of waving around a hand-held heavy camera and lens my arms were aching and it was time to call it a day. I suspect that I will not have time to visit again before they're gone until next year, but it was a most enjoyable session. Thank you, John.

Thank you for dropping by. I'll try and get another post in during the next few days, but if I don't, please don't be concerned if there's an even longer period than usual between my posts. I've got friends from Canada coming to stay for two and a half weeks and I'm almost certainly going to be preoccupied with enjoying their company and wall-to-wall birding!

Footnote: For ages now, I've referred to my pal, John, as 'Titus'. In the early days of our friendship he asked me not to use his name in my blog posts if I was referring to the Barn Owls which he had in his garden as he didn't want to be pestered by people or have his owls disturbed. I came up with Titus White as an alias for him (Barn Owl = Tyto Alba) - something that amused John as, unbeknown to me at the time, his dad's second name was Titus! John has adopted the name Titus John White for his own blog usage, and openly refers to himself as John, so I though I might as well do the same from now on. John is his real name but White isn't, so there is still an alias there.

30 comments:

  1. These are excellent. I will have to try and find some dragonflies. They are the most impressive of insects.

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    1. I've only recently got relatively serious about these insects, Adrian, and 'impressive' covers it well

      After one of your recent posts, I found myself photographing your 'bonking beetles' on Thursday - we always referred to them as bloodsuckers when I was a kid, but then we didn't know about the finer things in life!

      Got any sunshine yet? Best wishes - - - Richard

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  2. Good morning Richard: I checked the prey species of Little Owls and prominent in their diet are "Beetles and other insects, spiders scorpions...." so here is the new challenge - find a Little Owl chowing down on these dragonflies and get a picture of that! Then you will have both your dragonfly passion and your owl passion all encapsulated in the same frame! See you on Thursday!

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    1. Never heard of a Little Owl taking a dragonfly, David, but I wouldn't be surprised. I'll settle for Hobbies catching dragons - might be able to show you that if you're interested.

      Not long until Thursday now!

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    2. That would be quite fantastic Richard and Hobby would be a lifer in the bargain.

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    3. I guess, if we choose a good weather day, we've got a better than 50% chance at Rutland Water. Fingers crossed already!

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  3. Oh my word!! These are STUNNING IMAGES every single one. Have a lovely weekend.

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    1. Thank you, Margaret. Actually, I'm on my own this weekend, and fully occupied with domestic duties! Never mind!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  4. Amazing images Richard,well impressed with your flight shots.
    John.

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    1. Thank you, John. Without pal John's suggestion I think my arms would have given up before anything was achieved!

      I hope you're having a great weekend - - - - Richard

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  5. Super images of the Emporer dragonfly, female with reflection of wings in the water is stunning, was thinking of another visit but much to windy.

    John

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    1. Thank you John. Without your input it would never have happened!

      I shall miss our Thursdays out together whilst I'm otherwise occupied. See you next month!

      Best wishes to you and Veg - - - - - Richard

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  6. What a wonderful all round experience for you - and John - Richard, the 'alias' story is excellent.

    The in flight images are brilliant in my view, and yes, Four-spot Chaser.

    Make sure you get out again soon Richard, lifes too short for overdoing the domestic project thing.

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    1. Thanks, Pete, my doubt was not about the identification of the species of the chaser, but as to its sex. To me, females of the species and immature males look rather similar.

      As for going out, all this stuff is clearing the decks before my Canadian friends arrive - then I'll have pretty much a solid two and a half weeks of birding plus other nature watching.

      Best wishes - - - - - Richard

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  7. Beautiful clear, detailed image of your dragonflies Richard. I hope you a great time with your friends from Canada :-)

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    1. Thank you, Linda. I'm sure I will !!

      Best wishes to you both - - - - Richard

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  8. What a great set of images Richard, however the flight shots are a different level your perseverance was truly rewarded.
    I think some recent events in my own area makes me understand 100% why you gave your pal the nickname Titus. Hope the weather holds for your friends visit.

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    1. Thank you, Doug. It's great when a short session comes up trumps like like that - although my aching arms didn't feel like it had been a short session!

      Yes, as I've recently mentioned in a comment to you, it's often difficult to know where to draw the line when giving out information about owls (and other birds for that matter), particularly when it relates to nest sites or regular hunting grounds.

      I hope today's weather isn't the forerunner of what's in store for the next couple of weeks - not pleasant at all!

      Have a great week ahead - - - Richard

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  9. Hello Richard
    brilliant images, super motives and super sharpness ..
    greetings Frank

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    1. Thank you, Frank. My best wishes to you - - - - Richard

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  10. Hello Richard, these are stunning captures of the Anax imperator. And the ones in flight are amazing. Great job!! The photos of the Four-spotted Chaser are amazing! Sharp and so much detail to see.
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. Thank you for your very kind comments, Roos.

      Have a good week! - - - - Richard

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  11. Gee Richard, superb shots of the emperor in flight!
    Not all flying individual are that cooperative an managing this kind of pic is not evident.
    sincere congratulations!
    Your L. quadirmaculata is perfecly mature male and here too your photos are stunning :)

    I bet you are all worked up with our friend's visit, again i would so much loved being part of the adventure!
    I dearly hope that the weather will be fine and that you'll have great pic opportunities :)
    In the meantime, enjoy your sunday :)

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    1. We were really lucky with the way the Emperor cooperated. The Emperors we saw at Rutland Water the following day we didn't stand a chance of capturing!

      Thank you so much, Noushka, for your input on the L. quadrimaculata. From my guide I was expecting a mature male to be much darker over most of the upper side of its abdomen.

      Don't be surprised if the subject of all six of us getting together sometime comes up in the next couple of weeks!

      Best regards to you both - - - - Richard

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    2. Oh dear, I skipped a few letters in my post! so much for not re-reading myself before posting my comment!
      The body's colour with quadrimaculata varies quite a bit from one individual to another. But look at the wings, they are just starting to wear off along the edges especially on the hind ones.
      About getting together, it would be very exiting, but as you know, we are giving priority in our agenda to the sale of our property so we can at long last get to OZ... But would there be a chance, you would know instantly :)
      Keep well Richard

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    3. Thank you for the extra information about the L. quadrimaculata, Noushka. I see what you mean!

      I really do wish you all the best with selling your property as I know you really want to get to OZ, but I shall still hang on to the hope that we can all get together sometime. Best wishes - - - Richard

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  12. Just got back from holiday so doing some catching up.....Absolutely AMAZING images mate, nothing more to say!

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    1. Saw you'd been away, Paul, and what a fabulous result from the one day that you escaped!!

      Thanks for your kind comment.

      Have a great week - - - - Richard

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  13. Thank you for your kind thoughts while we were away from home, Richard! It's good to be back. And what a wonderful welcome home gift you have provided! Superb dragon images!! I am quite jealous, but very happy your hunt was successful.
    Hope your weather cooperates during your friends' visit and we wish you all the best during your wall to wall birding!

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    1. Thank you, Wally. It's really great to have you back in circualtion - I've missed your entertaining writing and you wonderful images.

      Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

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