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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Damsels and Dragons - an end-of-season, 2015, roundup

This post is dedicated to Noushka, who so kindly nurtured my dormant, but now budding, interest in Dragonflies and Damselflies. Thank you!!

It seems that it's been a strange season for the Odonata in UK. The season started rather late, then suddenly peaked, before slowly fading away again.

Until I came to do a bit of research, I did not realise that an early sighting of Hairy Dragonfly in VC55 at Rutland water was fairly noteworthy, with this relatively uncommon species usually only being seen in Leicestershire and Rutland in the north-east of Leicestershire by the Grantham Canal. Other than that sighting, other Odonata sightings have all been relatively run-of-the mill, but I have enjoyed the opportunity to use my 'new' Sigma 50-500 in macro mode. It's great to have a lens that will work nicely at the 500mm end, and then focus down to around 150mm at the 50mm end.

Here's a few dragons and damsels, previously unpublished, from the second half of the season.

Rutland Water on 4th June, 2015


Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) male - Rutland Water Lyndon Reserve
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) (male) - Rutland Water Lyndon Reserve
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (male) - Rutland Water Lyndon Reserve
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (female) - Rutland Water Lyndon Reserve
Rutland Water on 11th June, 2015


Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) (male) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) (male) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve



Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) (female) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve
On the same day, over on the Lyndon side of Rutland Water, there were a number of immature Common Blue damselflies.


Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (immature male) - Rutland Water Lyndon Reserve

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (immature female) - Rutland Water Lyndon Reserve
Spring Wood (Derbyshire WT) on 16th June, 2015

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) (female) - Spring Wood Nature Reserve
Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) (male) - Spring Wood Nature Reserve
Rutland Water on 2nd July, 2015

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (male & female) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) (female) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve
Rutland Water on 9th July, 2015




Common Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) (female) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve

Common Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) (male) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve
For some reason I seem to have the knack of getting the tails of this next species out of focus!

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) (male) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve
Most damselflies and dragonflies change colour as they mature, sometimes making identification a little more difficult. The next two are immature males, lacking the blue colour.


Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (immature males) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve
We now have a big jump in dates, mainly due to me already having published images from the intervening period when friends David and Miriam were staying with us - happy memories!

Rutland Water on 27th August, 2015

The next two images were the first for which I noticed that some Hawkers, when hanging, tend to have their abdomen set at an angle to their thorax. 


Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) (male) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve


Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (female) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve
Some dragonflies were starting to show their age - in terms of colouration and collateral damage!

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (old female) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve
This one was still relatively fresh and young, however.

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve

Rutland Water on 9th September, 2015

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (male) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (old male) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve
Drakelow Nature Reserve on 17th September, 2015

This was my first visit to this nature reserve, which is managed by The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, and I was delighted! Much was seen, but here are some of the dragons and damsels from that visit.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (female) - Drakelow Nature Reserve
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (female) - Drakelow Nature Reserve
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male) - Drakelow Nature Reserve
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (old female) - Drakelow Nature Reserve
This Migrant Hawker is also exhibiting the angled abdomen pose.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) (male) - Drakelow Nature Reserve
Drakelow Nature Reserve on 22nd September, 2015

One of the several Migrant Hawkers observed during this second visit was showing considerable wing damage.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) (male) - Drakelow Nature Reserve
These two male Common Darters show slightly differing colouration.


Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male) - Drakelow Nature Reserve
. . . . and here's an older female of the same species.

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (old female) - Drakelow Nature Reserve
Drakelow Nature Reserve on 30th September, 2015

A third visit to this location gave me what will probably be my last Odonata images for 2015. I was pleased to find a Migrant Hawker without any wing damage. On each visit I'd seen several males, but only one female, and I still didn't manage an image of a female!

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) (male) - Drakelow Nature Reserve


Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (female) - Drakelow Nature Reserve

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male) - Drakelow Nature Reserve
I'm not expecting to take any more Odonata images until next season, but one never knows! I did see a Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) flying around a small pond on Monday (26th October), but no photos obtained.

This year, most of my Odonata hunting has been at Rutland water and I feel that I got a bit 'stuck in a rut' - perhaps that's why it's named Rut-land! The visits to Drakelow were an effort to find different species, but probably came too late in the year. I'm determined, next summer, to seek out different habitats and species. I missed visiting a location where, last year, I photographed White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes), and I shall be attempting to get better photos of Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense). There's a whole raft of other species too, that I shouldn't have to travel too far to stand a chance of finding.

Thank you for dropping by.

18 comments:

  1. Great series Richard. Roll on next season.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Marc. Your kind comment is much appreciated.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  2. Richard,you must be very pleased with this lens,It's done you proud,Macro set up is outstanding,I particularly like your Banded Damoiselle,it took me years before I managed to nail one.
    I may have to rethink,on a new lens,after seeing your workmanship.
    Keep well.
    John.

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    Replies
    1. The difference between the Sigma 50-500 and the 150-500 is amazing, John, even at the 500 end the 50-500 is significantly better in my opinion. The OS seems to be better too. However, the real bonus is the close-up ability. You'd not be disappointed, I'm sure! With a camera with a higher resolution than my old 12.3 Mp Nikon D300s, I reckon I could get even better results - currently got my eye on a 24 Mp Nikon D7200.

      As far as the Demoiselles are concerned, It's the Beautiful D. that I need to catch up with - another target for next year! I could still do with some better images of Banded D., however. They're not difficult to find up here.

      Hoping you and Sue are in fine fettle. Take good care - - - Richard

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  3. Holy moly! Stunning photos of the damsels and dragonflies! You've got an amazing magnification on these bugs....hairs and all. Nicely done. Once and awhile I'll snap a shot or two of them....but they blur or our of focus at one end:( Congrats on these photos. Hope you are well. Just got married and was out of state for awhile but I'm back again in bloggerland:)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Chris. Firstly - my congratulations to you both. I wish you a long and happy life together. I'd remembered that you'd set an October date, but wasn't sure exactly when and had been looking for some clues. Recent posts suggested to me that it may have already happened. I'm delighted for you both!

      Thank you for your kind words - - - Richard

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  4. A fantastic set of images, no way am I going to pick a favourite as they're all brilliant images. Weirdly I've seen a few Damsels the last few days is this normal?

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    1. Thanks, Doug. I'm not sure that I'd say it's normal to see damsels at this time of year, but not unheard of. You're more likely to see some late dragonflies I guess. It could be that the season is running a bit late as it started late in the Midlands this year.

      I shall be keeping my eyes open if the weather is a good as it is forecast to be this weekend!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  5. Hi Richard, your pictures of the dragons and damsels are brilliant, they are surprisingly quite hairy especially the Four-spotted Chaser :-)

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    1. Thank you, Linda!! It's only since photographing the dragons and damsels that I've realised just how hairy they are. It's often
      surprising what the camera can see that the eye can't!

      I hope that you're getting better weather than we are! - - - Richard

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  6. These are very impressive. I would never have considered another zoom lens but this makes me think twice. I did have a 150-500mm sigma and a macro lens of theirs back in the Olympus days but wasn't overly impressed with either.

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    1. Sigma zoom lenses have come an awful long way. If I can produce these with my limited abilities, Adrian, just think what you could do with a Sigma 50-500 !! Just make sure you get the current incarnation. Every one of these images is handheld - I only ever take a tripod if I'm going to be sitting in my hide not too far from the car! I never use flash of any sort - although your images are starting to make me reconsider this aspect!

      After yesterday, I'm even more firmly resolved to photographically document the ancient machinery on one of the farms I visit regularly. I might not understand all your techniques and equipment, but your work does inspire me to broaden my horizons - thank you!

      Take good care of yourself - - - - Richard

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  7. Wow these are some stunning photos Richard. The details are amazing, I love the setting and the colors are beautiful. This lens is indeed amazing.
    Regards,
    Roos

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words, Roos. The lens certainly is versatile, and suits my requirements pretty well perfectly. I don't currently have any other lens appearing on my wish list! I wouldn't mind a new body however - both for me and for the camera!

      I hope that you are keeping well - - - - Richard

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  8. This is a stunning collection, Richard, and you have photographed them so well. I am sure that macro work is an entire skill unto itself. Good luck with finding the last stragglers of the season. How is the search for new Little Owl sites going?

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    1. Very kind words, David (thank you), but I'm no expert! Looking at the way the weather is going, I think that's probably it for this year as far as the dragons are concerned.

      The search for new LO sites will, hopefully, get fully under way when the leaves are off the trees. I did manage, yesterday, to get reconfirmation of an owl at a site (No.51) only previously seen once before (in June this year). I worked on the basis that , in the persistent wind and rain, there was a chance that an owl might be sitting at the entrance to a well-protected nest cavity, gazing out on the world - and it was!!

      My very best wishes - - Richard

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  9. Great photos Richard and a very worthy dedication. Well done, have a good week Diane

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    1. Thank you, Diane for your kind words, and for bringing back some fond memories for me with your own most recent blog post.

      Keep well, and take good care - - - Richard

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