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Friday, 10 August 2018

Heather Lake - on Friday 6th July, 2018

Heather (pronounced 'he- ther') Lake is only 6 miles (10km) from my home and can be very good for dragonflies. It's a short walk (450 metres) over level ground from where I park the car to the lake itself, so ideal for a quick, and undemanding, trip out. This was one such visit, with me setting off from home at around 10h00 and being back again by 12h30 for lunch.

On my walk to the lake there were many Ringlet butterflies around, but I resisted the temptation to spend any significant time with them. 

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - near Heather Lake
Some Little Grebes were on the lake, and later I saw their juveniles, but a couple let their dogs out into the water which scared the juveniles off before I could get any photos. 

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - Heather Lake
Common Blue Damselflies were in good numbers, but weren't my target species.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (male) - Heather Lake
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (male + female in tandem) - Heather Lake
Blue-tailed Damselfly were also much in evidence and seemed intent on maintaining the population levels! The first image of a mating pair, below, shows (I think) a somewhat immature male with a female  of f. rufescens. The second looks to me as if it is a mature male with an immature andromorph female - comments welcome!

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) (male) - Heather Lake

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) (male + female 'in cop') - Heather Lake
I was hoping to see Large Red Damselfly, but all the ones I saw were freshly emerged - I'd obviously arrived a bit late! 

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) (teneral female) - Heather Lake
I was disappointed that there were few dragonflies about. There were a few Ruddy Darters, and I attempted some flight shots - and failed! Four-spotted Chasers are usually very much in evidence here, and perched on sticks - there were few sticks for them to perch on this year, and even fewer 4-spots, and I think I only saw three. One of them looked very battle-worn.

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) (male) - Heather Lake
The star performers at Heather Lake, however, are the Emperor dragonflies. They are usually here in good numbers. I didn't count but suspect that there were at least 10 present that day.

I was able to get some shots of a pair mating.

Emperor (Anax imperator) (male + female 'in cop') - Heather Lake
Later in the morning, there was much ovipositing activity by the females. Some were in the blue state, rather than their more usual green - apparently brought on by high temperatures.

Emperor (Anax imperator) (female - ovipositing) - Heather Lake
Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of this visit was getting some flight shots of a male Emperor.

Emperor (Anax imperator) (male) - Heather Lake
Whilst walking round the lake I'd seen several Emperor exuviae, and I managed to collect three (1 male, 2 female) to bring home.

Emperor (Anax imperator) (exuvia - male) - Heather Lake

Emperor (Anax imperator) (exuvia - female) - Heather Lake
It had been a very worthwhile short trip out.

Thank you for dropping by. I think my next post might feature some owls!


  1. Cracking Emperor shots Richard and lovely to see the exuviae shots. Sounds like a good place to spend a few hours.

    1. It's a very pleasant place with very few people visiting, Marc - I usually only see two or three people at most, but sadly they are all dog walkers who encourage their dogs to swim in the lake. I've never seen another dragon or wildlife enthusiast of any sort there. I recently discovered that the lake is quite shallow, which makes it easier to recover exuviae! Best wishes - - - Richard

  2. Excellent flight shots but the one I admired most is the perfect reflection one.

    1. Thank you, Adrian - Im not sure which of the three reflection images your referring to, as I don't consider any of the reflections to be 'perfect'! Take good care, and don't go chasing after any shepherdesses - unless you too have got a death-wish like the sheep!

  3. I am sorry to say that our WiFi speed is so slow I cannot download all your photos today, I will return. Enjoy the weekend, best wishes Diane

    1. I am back, and today and have managed to download the fabulous photos and I love all the reflections. Our Wi-Fi upload speed is fluctuating between 0.09 and 0.55 Mbps while download appears to be only 0.09. Very frustrating as I cannot blog easily or see other people’s blogs. The president of Charente has said they do not have enough money to improve it at present!!!
      Looking forward to the owls :-)
      Take care and enjoy your Sunday. Diane

    2. Thank you, Diane, for persevering with your internet connection in order to visit my blog - very much appreciated! I get frustrated enough when our connection drops below the usual download speed of 30mbps ! Our upload speed runs at about 9 mbps. I find it incredible that your connection is so slow. I don't think I could cope with the frustration!

      Have a great week - - - Richard

  4. Loved the photos - especially the inflight emperor because I know how hard it is to get them!

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  6. Hi Richard! Wonderfull pictures! Greetings

  7. Fantastic images of the Dragonflies Richard, they are beautiful.

    1. Thank you, Bob. Dragonflies are such spectacular creatures! With my very best wishes - - - Richard

  8. What a fantastic series of pictures, Richard!
    Not just the king in flight but the mating wheel too. And you don't get many opportunities in one season to shoot one, congrats!!
    Funny how since I switched to birds (essentially) I don't have the patience for Odonata nany more!
    Enjoy your evening and share hugs with Lindsay :)

    1. Thank you for those very kind words, Carine. At the moment I've gone the other way to you -
      I'm doing very little with birds and more with the Odonata. My Sigma 150 macro lens is on my camera more than the Sigma 50-500, although I was using the 50-500 on the day featured in this post.

      With my very best wishes - - - Richard

  9. Hey Richard,
    really super nice pictures of these dragonflies and damselflies.
    The butterfly is also beautiful. Your photo album is really very geod.
    Beautiful mating wheels and also the colors and details are great.

    Kind regards, Helma


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