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Friday, 16 September 2016

More Dragons - on Thursday 9th September, 2016

I was back on Osprey duty at Rutland Water on Thursday 9th September, and left home early to give me time to check up on the owls on my way there (none seen), and to enable a leisurely amble down to Waderscrape Hide, from which  we monitor the Ospreys and help the visitors.

Although sunny and warm, it was very windy, so I was not too hopeful of seeing dragonflies, let alone photographing any.

A quick visit to Teal Hide, in the hope of another view of the Long-tailed Duck, didn't come up with the goods so, having taken a shot of a Tufted Duck in beautifully blue water, I set off on my way to Waderscrape Hide for my shift.

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) (female) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
I'd not gone far before I was seeing dragonflies - and more of them than usual were tending to perch. I suspect that this was due to the wind. An additional benefit was that they were perching low, so that they did not get blown about so much.

The first subject was a male Southern Hawker. It was extremely obliging, and was still there when I left. This is possibly as close as I've ever been to a dragonfly, and I was amazed to see the number of elements in the eye, which seemed far greater than, for example, a Common Darter.




Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) (male) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
There were a few Common Darters around, but they weren't always easy to spot when settled, as you might be able to see from this next image.


Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (female) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
I next came across a female Brown Hawker which settled low down. The shot was difficult, however, because of intervening foliage. Fortunately, I did manage to find one angle that gave me an uninterrupted view, and it stayed there! I see from my photos that it kept crossing its anal appendages.


Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) (female) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
At one point, I was able to photograph a pair of Common Darter mating.


Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (mating) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
I suddenly realised that I'd forgotten the time and was in danger of being late for my shift, so it was somewhat frustrating when I found two Migrant Hawkers together. I quickly grabbed some photos - first with the camera in landscape attitude, and then close-up in portrait attitude. Those in landscape weren't so good in clarity, whereas those in portrait were relatively crisp - but I found that, in my haste, I'd managed to clip the end of a wing off one of the dragons in every 'portrait' image!

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) (male) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
I managed to arrive at the hide only one minute late (13h01), and was kindly forgiven my transgression! I was greeted with the news that our last Osprey, 33(11), had departed at 10h00 and had not been seen since, and was almost certainly now on his migration to West Africa. 

As things at the hide were very quiet, I took half an hour out to wander down to Shallow Water Hide. On the way there I found a Ruddy Darter on the path.

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) (male - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Little of interest was seen from Shallow Water Hide with the only photos taken being of a distant Little Egret, and an even more distant Little Grebe.


Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
On the way back to Waderscrape Hide, I took some shots of a Common Darter.


Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Further on, a damselfly caught my attention. I believed I was looking at a teneral, but it took a while for me to come to the conclusion that it was a teneral female Common Blue Damselfly. The orange wing 'nodes' and the stripe on the eyes confused me initially, but the 'spine' under segment 8 of the abdomen says 'Common Blue'.



Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (teneral female) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve.
Whilst I was away, John had received a call from base to say that if 33 had not returned by 16h00, and if we didn't have visitors in the hide, we could lock up and go home early. This proved to be the case, and so we set off back to the visitor centre. There were no photo opportunities on the way back.

As my wife and I were heading off on our 'Route 66' tour the next morning, I took the opportunity to get back home early, stopping off at some Little Owl sites on the way back. In the event, only one owl was seen.


Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.34
The only other remarkable sight was of a large number of Pheasant in the road which held me up for a while. These had, presumably, been recently released as 'cannon fodder' for the benefit of barbaric humans who still live in the 'dark ages'. Amongst these I saw three all-white birds (possibly there for the benefit of half-blind barbaric humans). I don't think these birds were albino as they had colouration in the eyes - probably just a melanistic aberration.


Sitting Target - near Lowesby
That's all for now. My next post will probably be on 'Route 66'.

Thank you for dropping by.

24 comments:

  1. Hi Richard, super post of our last duty in Waderscrape Hide, some excellent Dragonfly images, the Brown Hawker is a beauty but the close up of the Southern Hawker has the WOW factor, see you soon, Regards John

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    1. Thank you, John. I was fortunate as things just fell into place. See you soon.

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  2. Enjoyed looking at your images and commentary Richard. The Brown Hawker is so unmistakable isn't it, and the female Tufted Duck with it's huge white blaze has you understanding how they can be mistaken at a distance for the female Scaup.

    Kind Regards

    Pete.

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    1. Thank you, Pete. I'll confess to having spent some time checking on that Tufty, just in case it was a Scaup - I've still got a lot to learn about birds!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  3. Richard your photography has always been good but I think this shows just how good. Brilliant photos well done. Hope all is well Diane

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    1. We're fine here, Diane - thank you so much for your kind comments. Best wishes - - Richard

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  4. Well Richard,the Hawkers are out of this World,in fact I go one better,they are World class,not one Migrant Hawker,but two on the same stem,and then you produce the Jewel in the crown,the Brown Hawker.
    Brilliant post.
    John.

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    1. Thank you so much for your very kind words, John. Brown Hawkers are very common in these parts, but photographing them is not so easy as they don't often settle, and when they do it's easy to miss them. I find that they tend to see me before I see them and I only spot them when they fly away!

      Best wishes to you and Sue - - - Richard

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  5. Brilliant images Richard, and dragonflies, superb.

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    1. Thank you, Bob. I hope that all is well with you after your recent spell in hospital. Best wishes - - - Richard

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  6. Hi! You've had a nice day :-) Lots of magnificent birds and dragonflies. Here we have a huge amount of Barnacle. Birds arrive all the time.

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    1. Thank you, Anne. It was an enjoyable day, and I was pleased to get all those images in a very short space od time. I envy you having all those Barnacle Geese - we don't see them very often here.

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  7. It's lovely to get some close-ups of a dragonfly, the Southern Hawker seem to be one of those that don't mind you getting close to it, I remember at Powerstock I got a few close-ups of this dragonfly, I was surprised how close I could get to it. I have read they do check you out, so while you are taking pictures of him, he is clocking you with those fantastic eyes:-)

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    1. Yes, the Southern Hawkers do seem to be very approachable, Lin, although the female I saw yesterday was not at all cooperative! Last year, I found that the Migrant Hawkers were also approachable - but not this year. They've been very skittish this year.

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  8. You really caught the dragons in some beautiful light. It's a shame about the Little Owls being so few and far between and I'll be honest I'm slightly concerned in the drop in numbers so quickly. I hope I'm just being a bit of paranoid ninny though.

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    1. I found that Little Owl sightings plummeted in March, Doug. I saw Emily Joachim (reckoned to be a top Little Owl expert) at Birdfair, and mentioned this to her, and she indicated that she had the same experience. It seems that she is trying to scientifically sort out what is happening. One suggestion is that the gene pool is too small as all our birds have their origins in a relatively small number of introduced birds. My own thoughts are that maybe there's a virus that's hitting them, or that food was in short supply, either through weather conditions or a bad year for voles. I've also seen a lot of nest site destruction, and I'm concerned that their predators are on the increase too. It's a tough life for a Little Owl!

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  9. Great series of pictures, Richard. I guess this goes to prove that regardless of the weather one should get out and explore. Nature has a way of delivering unexpected surprises. It was certainly good to see at least a few Little Owls portrayed again.

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    1. I think that we humans are sometimes more easily put off by the weather, than the wildlife we'd like to observe is, David. Occasionally I've set off in conditions that I've thought would mean I'd be lucky to see one Little Owl, and ended up having a relatively good day for sightings.

      The dragons season is drawing to a close, and it will be back to the birds, and particularly the owls, again - with luck!!

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  10. Hello David, again a superbe blog. Those Hawkers are stunning and the details are amazing. My compliments. Sorry to read that you did not get to see that much LO. I read your comment about your concern. Hope you had a good time away with your wife. Thank you also for your comments on my last blog. Next week I am again of for a visit to my brother in France and enjoy the sun there.
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. Thank you, Roos. I hope you have a wonderful time in France with your brother - his name isn't David by any chance? Best wishes - - - Richard David

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  11. Hi Richard,
    really a wonderful blog with beautiful dragonflies and damselflies. Kleru lovely and wonderful details. The owl is always nice to see. I was amazed at the white pheasant in your blog. You looked 3. I had not previously seen a white pheasant.
    Yours, Helma

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    1. Thank you, Helma. There is so much variation in the Pheasants that we get in UK. I suspect that it is probably because most of them are bred on farms in thousands, and there is no care taken to their parentage. To those that breed them, they are just for shooting anyway. Best wishes - - - - Richard

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  12. I am 100% with you on the barbarism of hunters, how can they feel good suppressing life, killing such beauties as our birds.
    One thing they don't consider and this I will develop in a next post is OUR RIGHT to enjoy OUR fauna without fearing that some murderer will shoot down an animal. We also have rights to enjoy nature, I can't understand why a minority of humans can still claim such a right nowadays. It is perverse and perversity is a disease!!..... So they should be interned and cured!
    And when you're able to kill an animal, you could very well kill a human without further thought, the limit is a very fine line...
    This said, your post is exquisite, I love those dragon, especially the Brown hawker I have yet to see!
    Enjoy your weekend and share my warmest hugs with Lindsay :)

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    1. It's great to hear from you, Noushka, after your trip away. I hope that you had a wonderful time.

      Those Brown Hawkers are very common in these parts, but they are not the easiest to photograph. They seem to spend most of their time in flight, and their flight pattern is not predictable, and they don't seem to hold territories. When they are settled, which seems to be rarely, they are not the easiest to spot because of their colouration, and they tend to see you before you see them, and fly away. The best chance is when you see one land, but this is often very high up in a tree. If you are lucky to get one settled low down, a very slow approach is needed - and I always wear dark clothing when out photographing.

      Warm hugs in return - - - Richard



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