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Monday, 16 September 2019

Heather Lake - on 8th September, 2019

Having had a successful (health-wise) trip out with my camera three days earlier, I found myself tempted to visit Heather Lake to see what the dragonfly situation was there. This would involve less walking than my previous trip out, but did not give the option to sit down if I felt the need to take a rest. The morning did not disappoint!

There were still a few damselflies around, but only Common Blues were noted.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (male) - Heather Lake
I did not pay much attention to the damselflies as my interest was drawn more to the several dragonflies that were visible. I did, however, take some shots of a lone duck on the lake, not being sure whether it was a Tufted Duck or a (somewhat rarer) Scaup. My photo and description even had the local experts scratching their heads for a while before coming to the conclusion that it was just a 'Tufty'.

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) (female) - Heather Lake
I spent a rather long time trying to photograph Migrant Hawkers. Photographing dragonflies in flight can be a rather strenuous exercise, particularly on the chest and arm muscles, and I did not feel up to it on this occasion, so I waited for them to settle before moving in. Only males were seen on this occasion. I'm not sure what the hawker in the 2nd image, below, is doing but it was busy whirring its wings whilst settled - perhaps trying to generate some warmth?





Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) (male) - Heather Lake
There were plenty of Common Darters around, and several were busy ovipositing in tandem. For the ovipositing ones I did try some 'flight shots' as it is somewhat easier to wave a camera around when it is pointing in a generally downward direction.


Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male) - Heather Lake
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male + female, in cop) - Heather Lake
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male + female, ovipositing in tandem) - Heather Lake
I've often heard it said that Brown Hawker are extremely difficult to photograph, with their unpredictable flight, and their reluctance to settle. I can, to some extent, understand this view, particularly in respect of their unpredictable flight. However, I have, with patience, managed the occasional shot of a settled Brown Hawker, although catching females ovipositing is more frequent. I was, therefore, somewhat delighted to photograph at least three Brown Hawkers (all male) on this day. It might have been more, but you can clearly detect three different specimens by looking at wing damage (last two images are probably of the same individual).




Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) (male) - Heather Lake
For a short while, I was distracted by the juvenile Little Grebes on the lake. 

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) (juvenile) - Heather Lake
My greatest delight was, however, seeing Spotted Flycatcher. I'm not a 'lister', but I can't remember seeing one of these before in the county, and I certainly hadn't photographed one in the county. I believed, at the time, that there were probably two, although I didn't see them together at any one time. Having looked at the two images below, however, my suspicions are strengthened!


Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) - Heather Lake
I'd now been on my feet for two and a half hours with a heavy camera and been contorting myself into awkward poses in order to take photos. I was starting to feel I'd overdone it and so headed back towards my car, it not helping that I put a foot into an unseen hole under the grass as I did so and twisted my back as I stumbled! It took a couple of days to recover, but I'm delighted that I made the visit.

Thank you for dropping by. I suspect that my next blog post will largely feature the dragons, once more, but I feel that an owl is in the offing!


22 comments:

  1. Wonderful photos and I love the Spotted Flycatcher, now if I had seen that I would have given it an ID of LBJ!!! I am useless in small birds unless they have bright colours!! The young Grebes are cute. Hope the back is now OK. Mine is complaining after 3 days of the two of us cutting wood and stacking it ready for winter!! My very best wishes Diane

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    1. Don't worry about LBJs, Diane - I get a few of those from time to time and find myself turning to the reference books. Serious birders are keen to find different races of a species, but I'm lucky if I can identify the base species sometimes!

      The back's fine now, thank you, but still having to be careful not to overdo things.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  2. Absolutely stunning of all the photos, but, you put the last is unique, Richard, brilliant.

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    1. Thank you, Bob, for those kind words. The last photo is possibly my favourite too! My best wishes - - - Richard

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  3. I am quite amazed, Richard, that the dragonflies seem to rest and pose for you. I don't seem to have the same kind of luck and they are frustratingly difficult to photograph. Having said this, I do realize of course that you invest a significant amount of time into obtaining these shots and, as you point out a little septuagenerian gymnastics are involved. The misstep in the hole could have been more serious, so I hope you always carry a phone with you. The Spotted Flycatcher shots were a nice bonus for the day.

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    1. Hi David. I seem to have a bit of a knack for spotting those dragonflies that look as if they're getting tired and want to settle, and focusing my attention on those. It might take half an hour of waiting, and they might decide to bugger off somewhere else, but sometimes it works. The trick is then to approach them directly, and very slowly - although some of the shots, above, were taken at a distance with the lens at 500mm and over an impenetrable wall of brambles!

      Yes, always got a phone with me which I make sure is fully charged before leaving home - although I have been known to leave it behind by mistake a couple of times!

      The Spotted Flycatcher was very much the highlight of the session for me.

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  4. Hello Richard, first of all the Spotted Flycatchers, that is a great catch for you! The photos of the dragonflies are fantastic and good you took your time and waited for them to settle down. The Brown Hawker is most wonderful. Never saw one.
    Be careful and take care next time not to step in another hole.
    All te best,
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. The Brown Hawker is a quite common dragonfly in this area at this time of year, Roos, but it is not always easy to get a photograph of one - it is a matter of luck as much as anything!

      The Spotted Flycatcher was the most exciting part of my morning. I'm usually quite good at avoiding holes in the ground, but this one was hidden under long grass.

      My very best wishes - - - Richard

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  5. The Flycatcher is worth a ricked back. Good to see you on the mend.

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    1. Thank you, Adrian. Progress is slow, but I'm getting there!

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  6. Interesting, that three of your dragon species are the same as mine seen yesterday, Migrant/Brown/Common Darter....Keep on keeping on Richard.

    Kind Regards

    Pete.

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    1. On the dragonfly front, Pete, those three species, plus the odd Ruddy Darter, are pretty much all that's around now in these parts. However, I did have the pleasure of catching up with Willow Emerald Damselfly on Friday. Someone had found them (a first for the county) five days earlier.

      I'm keeping on, Pete, and drawing a lot of inspiration from yourself. Best wishes and thanks - - - Richard

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  7. Beautiful birds and I especially like that one shot of the Brown Hawker. Hope you are having a fun week. We still have lots of dragonflies and damselflies here as well. But soon they will all vanish.

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    1. Not too bad a week, thank you Chris. Our dragonflies and damselflies will mainly be gone soon, but a few can hang on into late October, or even later!

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  8. Your photos are amazing! Hope you are ok!

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    1. Thank you, Anne - I seem to be making good, but slow, progress!

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  9. From the damsel in blue at the beginning to the final scene of a magnificent flycatcher, a thrilling post, Richard!

    The hawkers are intriguing and what terrific images you made of the darters ovipositing. Fabulous stuff!

    I am all too familiar with the syndrome of watching for birds and bugs instead of where I'm placing my feet. Holes, logs, puddles, ant hills, sunning snakes - I've found them all! Hopefully, you did no severe damage to yourself.

    Thank you for sharing a bit of the beauty you found!

    Gini and I hope you are both well. Continue to pace yourself so you can heal properly!

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    1. Fortunately, Wally, I don't have to look out for 'gators and snakes and I'm not usually troubled by potholes. The biggest, and most unpleasant, problem I encounter is due to people not cleaning up after their dogs. Anyway, thankfully my back was fine by the following day.

      Had an x-ray check up last week and was told yesterday that they're happy with my progress but I shouldn't expect to back to my old self for a while. I shall keep working at it, but with caution!

      I hope that your humid heat will soon pass and you can enjoy some more comfortable temperatures. With my best wishes to you both - - - Richard

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  10. Hello Richard
    Watch dragonflies and marvel, super details ...
    Greetings Frank

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    1. Thank you, Frank. I hope you have a great weekend. Best wishes - - Richard

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  11. ello Richard,
    really a beautiful blog full of a beautiful variety of dragonflies. The dragonflies are beautifully sharply photographed and have a beautiful color. I'm a little jealous of the brown glassmaker. I don't think it is in the Netherlands and you really show a super beautiful series of this beautiful dragonfly.
    also seeing the felled flycatcher is a great encounter.

    Kind regards and think carefully about yourself,
    Helma

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    1. Thank you, Helma. If your reference to 'brown glassmaker' relates to Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) it does occur in the Netherlands. I assure you, that I am being careful! Take good care yourself. My very best wishes - - - - Richard

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