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Friday, 8 September 2017

Heather Lake - on 6th August, 2017

In my last post which featured Heather Lake, I mentioned at the end that I'd had a subsequent visit, and it wasn't what I'd hoped it would be. It failed to deliver much in the way of dragonfly interest, and there was a sting in the tail at the end of the visit - enough to put me off returning for a while.

On reflection, however, it wasn't such a bad experience, and probably warrants a blog post - so here goes!!

The weather had been cold, wet, and windy for a few days and I'd not been out for over a week so a forecast for 'sunny periods' prompted me to try my luck at Heather Lake. My prime objective was to photograph dragonflies and damselflies. 

Having parked my car, I took the tree-lined footpath that leads to the lake. On arrival it soon became apparent that there was not the large number of dragonflies that there'd been on my previous two visits. I'd arrived a little before 09h00, and came to the conclusion that perhaps the day had not yet warmed up enough. I continued to search, however.

There were several Common Blue Damselfly around but very few Blue-tailed Damselfly were seen. I didn't manage to get square-on so the tail-end of the abdomen is out of focus but it's the best I managed of that species that morning.

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) (male) - Heather Lake
More exciting for me was finding my first local Emerald Damselfly of the year. I did see another of these later on, but didn't manage to photograph it. I think those eyes are wonderful!

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) (male) - Heather Lake
I noticed many froglets as I walked round the lake but, at one point, I spotted a toadlet. This was probably only about 2cm long!

Common Toad (Bufo bufo) (toadlet) - Heather Lake
Whilst the weather conditions didn't seem to be favouring the dragonflies and damselflies, it did seem to be suiting the smaller butterflies, and I was pleased to have something to point my camera at.

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)  - Heather Lake
Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) (female) - Heather Lake
Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) (male) - Heather Lake

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) (female) - Heather Lake
Unlike many species that are named 'common' and make you wonder why they have earned that epithet, Common Blue butterflies are (in this area, at least) quite common, and it's easy to forget just how beautiful these butterflies are. Even the less-colourful female of the species, with all its variations, has a subtle beauty.

Whilst photographing the butterflies, my eye was briefly caught by a fly with a bright red abdomen. I didn't pay much attention to it but idly banged off a shot. I wish I had paid more attention now for two reasons. The shot I did take, which is a rear-view, I find quite amusing, and secondly I suspect, from the way I came up in a large lump on my arm later, that the red colour was due to its abdomen being full of my blood!

I've no idea! - Heather Lake
I also took a shot of a tiny flea beetle. These are quite numerous locally.

Altica species (possibly Altica lythri) - Heather Lake
I'd told Lindsay that I'd be back for lunch, and time was running out - which is unfortunate as the first dragonflies were starting to appear. The first was a male Ruddy Darter, which settled on a thistle leaf.

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) (male) - Heather Lake
As I was photographing this specimen, another dragonfly came along and there was an altercation during which they both disappeared. I stood my ground, knowing that the species often returns to a favoured perch. I was, therefore, momentarily confused when the dragonfly 'returned' to exactly the same position looking somewhat different - the Ruddy Darter's perch had been usurped by a male Common Darter!

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male) - Heather Lake
It was time now to head back to my car. 

I mentioned a sting in the tail (and I'm not talking about that fly) - on returning to my car I found that I'd managed to step in what must have been a huge pile of soft dog dirt which was now squidged all round the outside of the heel of one of my boots, and well-and-truly embedded into the treads! Fortunately I had a carrier bag, and a change of footwear in the car, but that mess took a lot of work to clean off to a degree that I felt comfortable with. I confess that, up until now, it's been enough to put me off returning, but I suspect that I shall overcome that aversion soon.

Thank you for dropping by. It looks, at this time, as if my next post might major on butterflies.


  1. I am somewhat confused, mind you that is easy for me to do. I just put a comment on a post that had a kestrel on it and now I am looking at a different post!!
    Love the first shot here, it is stunning and I like the 'I have no idea' interesting position LOL.
    Have a good weekend, cheers Diane

    1. Sorry about that, Diane! I was drafting my next post in advance, and accidentally managed to hit the 'publish' button. You must have seen it during the few minutes it was there. That blog post should re-appear in about 4 days time!! Probably without you comment however, as I suspect that got lost. I certainly never got an email to say you'd commented on it.

      Thank you for your kind words. Have a good one yourself! Best wishes - - - Richard

  2. Good morning Richard: it would be a shame if an encounter with a misplaced pile of dog poop deterred you from visiting again. There are new species to be photographed - perhaps even of the boorish lout who let his (her) dog befoul the pathways without cleaning up after it. I think we should bring back the stocks and have Irresponsible Dog Owner Shaming Day! You could be there to sell rotten tomatoes!

    1. Hi David. What a good idea! However, I can think of more appropriate things to hurl at the perpetrators - and rather than sell them I'd be happy to gve them away by the trailor-load. In fact, if the stocks were located near the worst areas, I expect that there'd be plenty of volunteers for a clean-up operation if they had the opportunity to return their pickings to their rightful owners. I shall be writing to my MP later!

      My love to you both - - - Richard

  3. Great pictures, and observations. Is it there already in the autumn? Greetings

    1. Hi Anne. Thank you for those kind words! It would not usually be described as autumn at this time of year, but the weather feels like autumn already - although we have not had frosts yet!

      Best wishes - - Richard

  4. The second one is beautiful, and so are all rest, tell me, are you using the macro? Richard, you are a genius.

    1. Thank you, Bob. No, these were taken before I had the macro lens, but the Sigma 50-500mm that I used for all these is good for some macro work. Set around 150mm focal length it will focus at around 4 or 5 inches from the lens hood!!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  5. Another excellent series of shots Richard. Nice detail in all of them.

    1. Thank you, Marc. I was quite pleased with the results myself. Best wishes - - Richard

  6. Hi Richard, Like you I have not been back to the lake at Heather but more on the basis of you not seeing very much, luckily I have managed previously to miss the dog poop, must try another visit soon. Super set of images with the old lens, luck forward to seeing what the new one can do if we ever get any suitable weather again. All the best, John

    1. From the weather we're getting at the moment, John, I suspect that the summer is over, and the opportunities for using the lens will have disappeared - having said that I was trying to get shots of a lacewing on a conservatory window this morning. Any port in a storm! See you soon - - - Richard

  7. Hi Richard,
    9h00 in the morning is a bit early for dragonflies especially at the end of summer; they need to warm themselves before they can fly. And it is worse after a few days of cold and rainy weather, so I am not very surprised.
    Nevertheless, you managed lovely pics of Ishnura and S. sanguineum and striolatum.
    Your hairy fly is not identifiable for me, but it's a fun pic!!
    Lestes sponsa and your lycanidae butterflies are truly gorgeous, those blues are always fascinating!
    I really enjoy your comment on my Trithemis annulata, and I answered ;-)
    Warm hugs to share with Lindsay :)))

    1. Hi Noushka. The reason for the early visit was that I was hoping to find some specimens that has roosted, and maybe get some shots of something coated in dew - no such luck!

      Thank you for your kind encouragement. With my very best wishes - - - Richard

  8. Pffffffff ........ amaiiii .... !!!!!
    I'm really breathtaking and watching big eyes look at these beautiful pictures!
    What did you photograph these dragonflies and juffers and vlidners !!!!!
    This is great enjoyment. My compliments.

    Regards, Helma

    1. Thank you, Helma. I hope you are having a good week. With my best wishes - - - Richard


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