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Sunday, 15 May 2016

First Damselflies of The Year - 12th May, 2016

For the past couple of years I've had an increasing interest in dragonflies and damselflies. This interest has been given a real boost over recent months by the inspirational blog of Marc Heath, who resides in Kent (the south-east corner of England, for my overseas visitors not familiar with our geography). You can find Marc's blog here - http://marcheath.blogspot.co.uk/

With the first damselflies to emerge in these parts being Large Red Damselflies, I'd been hoping for some fine weather to go and check these out at Rutland Water. On Thursday 5th May, I'd had a brief glimpse of one as I headed to the hide to start my turn of duty on the Osprey Project, but duty came first and I didn't find one after I finished.

On Thursday 12th I was out with pal John, and one of our main objectives was to try and find some damselflies - the other being to see some Little Owls. We took our usual owling route on the way to Rutland Water, and failed miserably on the Little Owl front.

Arriving at the Egleton side of Rutland Water, we refreshed ourselves with an ice cream and headed to the nearby dipping pond. I soon spotted a small pale damselfly which came up from the grass ahead of me and flew up into a tree. I'd not managed to identify it as it flew, and I still couldn't when it landed. The nearest I could get to it was about 5 or 6 metres. I was expecting Large Red Damselfly, but the eyes show no signs of stripe, and the thorax markings seem wrong. I think this may be a teneral male Azure Damselfly. Any observations on its identification will be gratefully received!

? Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) ? (teneral male?) - Rutland Water Egleton Reserve
We saw no other damselflies here, and I was hoping for Hairy Dragonfly too! The damselfly already seen moved further into the curve of the leaf that it was on - and stayed there. We called it time and headed round to the visitor centre at Lyndon. Here we found people eagerly staring at the TV screen in the hope of catching a hatching Osprey.

Having had a quick chat, we stood by the pond in front of the visitor centre.

Until now, my interest in dragonflies and damselflies has been in observing and photographing the adults. However, Marc Heath's work has inspired me to take more interest in the pre-adult stages, and I found myself looking for the exuvia (the skin left when the dragonfly makes the transition from nymph to adult). I soon found one - then another - and then another! There were quite a few around. I think these were all of Large Red Damselfly, but I've still got a lot to learn! The pond is, wisely, fenced off, so these too were somewhat distant shots - all at  2 metres distance or further.



Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) (exuvia) - Rutland Water Lyndon Reserve
A partially emerged Large Red Damselfly was then spotted. I'm not sure if this one was just resting or the emergence had failed as I detected absolutely no movement from this during the half hour or so that we were there.

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) (emerging) - Rutland Water Lyndon Reserve
I'd been almost totally ignoring the possibility of adults, but John had found them! So a few poor images were obtained. I believe that this first one, hiding in the shade, was a female - forma fulvipes

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula f. fulvipes) (female) - Rutland Water Lyndon Reserve
These are of males of the species.



Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) (male) - Rutland Water Lyndon Reserve
We'd left it a little late to be visiting this spot, and by 16h30 the sun was off most of the pond, so we then set off to try and photograph fishing Osprey before setting back homeward to look for Little Owls.

I'm sorry for the poor standard of photography in this post, but conditions (mainly those of distance and light direction) were somewhat less than ideal. The subject matter was, however, an important milestone in my growing interest in the odonata.

My thanks, again, to Marc Heath for the inspiration - I shall strive to do better in future!

Thank you for dropping by.

29 comments:

  1. These are brilliant. I'll have to make do with smaller insects but may try lizard macroing as well.

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    1. Thanks, Adrian. Now if I knew of a place for lizards near here, I'd be there in a flash! Not seen one for a couple of years or so, and that was up in North Yorkshire! Nearest thing to a lizard I've seen lately was a trio of Common Newts when I was taking the images above!

      Best wishes - - Richard

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  2. Hi Richard,
    excellent shooting with a bow which one rarely sees .. you can see every detail ... perfect photo series that you like to look at
    greetings frank

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    1. Hi Frank. Thank you for your kind comment. Shooting with a bow? Best wishes - - - Richard

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  3. Nice series, Richard. Odenata are certainly very interesting indeed...and of course they provide food for many birds!!

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    1. Thank you, David.

      Many of those damselflies were not surviving long enought to fall prey to birds - judging by the debris in the webs, the spiders were taking them as they emerged.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  4. I have never seen the casing of a Dragonfly below and all your shots are very good. Pity you did not see theLittle Owls but your journey was not wasted seeing these lovely Dragonflies.

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    1. I'd never knowingly seen dragonfly exuvia either, Margaret, until that day. They just weren't on my radar - but they are now!!

      We did manage to see two Little Owls on the way home that evening

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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    2. My first exuvia, and possibly my only one, (I am not sure), was shown to me by Noushka at Bassa d'Oles in the Spanish Pyrenees.

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    3. I'm sure that Noushka could teach me a thing or two about Dragonflies, David!

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  5. Many thanks Richard for the mention. Well done with the sightings and shots, looking good to me and it gets addictive but very pleasurable at the same time. Keep it up, I shall watch with interest.

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    1. I would imagine the emerging Large Red has failed. At this stage they should have risen more where they then rest for a while. If you say half an hour with no movement, I assume he did not make it :(

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    2. Thank you for your kind words, and encouragement, Marc. I was pretty sure that the emergence had failed, but was hoping for better news.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  6. What a wonderful series, Richard! I especially like the emerging Red Damselfly. Good timing! As Marc said: "It gets addictive"!
    Hopefully, will return to a more regular blogging/birding/exploring schedule soon.
    In the meantime, I shall live vicariously through your wonderful adventures.

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    1. Thank you, Wally, for your very kind words.

      Marc is as good as confirming my fears that this emergence,sadly, had failed

      Please come back to Bloggerland soon - I'm missing your wonderful photography and your entertaining writing!

      Best wishes to you and Gini - - - Richard

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  7. Absolutely fantastic pictures. I get quite engrossed in dragonflies as well. Have you got the book Field Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain and Ireland by Steve Brooks. It is brilliant. It's illustrated by Richard Lewington.

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    1. Thank you, Fin. They are fabulous creatures.

      Yes, I have got that book, and by coincidence it was in front of me when I opened you message! I can also recommend 'Britain's Dragonflies' by Dave Smallshire & Andy Swash, which is totally different in its approach, and gives added information to that found in the Brooks guide.

      Best wishes to you, Harley, and your mum and dad - - - - Richard

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  8. Hello Richard, great pictures and you suceeded very well with capturing these amazing creatures. I also was to be found near ponds for getting the first pictures of emerging damselflies and dragonflies. Sorry for my late reactions on your blogs but catching up now.
    I read at the Facebook page of Rutland that the third chick has been born at Rutland. So exciting!
    Take care,
    Roos

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    1. I've seen you delightful blog with your images of damsels and dragons, Roos, and I'm very jealous that you have so many species already emerged!

      The third chick in Manton Bay, Rutland Water, is great news, I shall be seeing them when I'm on duty there this Thursday.

      Thank you for your kind words. Best wishes - - - Richard

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  9. I personally don't think there is much wrong with the images Richard. I found the images of the 'transition' truly fascinating to look at.
    You know I'm starting to get worried about Little Owls I'm struggling to locate LO's that normally are dead certs to at least see.

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    1. I'm in danger of getting hooked on the dragonflies, Doug. In fact, whilst I don't consider myself a twitcher when it comes to birds, I'm already making plans for distant visits to find the rarer dragons! At this rate I'll be having to change the title of my blog!

      Seriously though, I am getting thoroughly disheartened on the owl front. Last Thursday was the first time in a month that I've seen two owls in a day.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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    2. Do you reckon like some smaller birds they've bred early and keeping cover?

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    3. Possibly, in some cases, Doug. However, some of it is nests being taken over by Jackdaws or Stock Doves, and some of it is nest site destruction/decay. A female Little Owl will not move off eggs, and Jackdaws will cover a sitting female Little Owl with sticks and condemn her to death by starvation!

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  10. Hi Richard, super images, funny enough I have got some similar, was not a bad day out other than the lack of Little Owls, Regards John

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    1. Thanks, John. I suspect that your images will be more than a little similar!

      Let's hope for some decent weather this Thursday. I'm possibly going to go for an early start if the weather's right.

      See you then - - - Richard

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  11. Interesting pictures Richard, I have seen the Large Reds at Morden Bog. You are probably not on Facebook but there is a group for people who are interested in Dragonflies and Damselflies that you can subscribe to.

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    1. Thank you, Linda. I don't do Facebook, but I think I should be able to find something on Twitter when I'm ready. At the moment I've got so many places I want to visit, and not enough good-weather days to visit them in!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  12. The first dragonflies and damselflies are indeed back.
    I have to find time for it to go out to photograph them.
    You have the vuurjufer capture beautiful.
    Beautiful colors and nice details.

    Greetings, Helma

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Helma. I hope you do find time (and good weather!) to go out and photograph some dragons and damsels.

      Enjoy the rest of your weekend - - - Richard

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