Notes on Use of This Blog

1. I have a policy that I always reply to comments on my blog, even if it's just to say thank you.

2. Please don't submit comments that include your own web address. For obvious reasons, they will not be published.

3. I'm now on Twitter - @RichardPegler1

Monday 22 August 2022

July Local Excursions - 2022

Herewith, an account of a few local visits that I made in July. Again, the prime objective was to look for dragonflies and damselflies. The locations will be familiar to regular readers of my blog - I didn't go far!

Sunday, 10th July                  Saltersford Valley Country Park

I usually try and avoid going out to look for wildlife on a weekend because 'every man and his dog' is also out, but there are a few local places that I can rely on to be quiet, to the extent that, more times than not, I will not encounter another person. Saltersford Valley CP is one of thosae places.

My visit on this day was on a warm and sunny afternoon, and I had the place to myself! As is usual, I first surveyed the board-walk area and saw very little apart from Azure Damselflies.

Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) (male) - Saltersford Valley CP
I got all the way round to the second lake without finding anything of great interest and, lazily, raised my camera to a Grey Heron that flew past and then briefly landed in a tree about 30 metres away before departing. I was surprised to see that the results were far more pleasing than I expected!

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - Saltersford Valley CP

Out on vegetation in the water were three Red-eyed Damselflies. It's typical of this species that they like to place themselves in positions where it is difficult to photograph them! Here's a record shot of one.

Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas) (male) - Saltersford Valley CP

A pair of Blue-tailed Damselflies seemed oblivious to my presence. The female was of the andromorph blue form.

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) (male + female in cop) - Saltersford Valley CP
I usually take a few pots with me when dragon hunting, just in case I find any exuviae. On this occasion I didn't take any - to my regret. I found this one on a reed leaf.

probable Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) exuvia - Saltersford Valley CP
I managed to tear off the rigid leaf that this was attached to, and stuck the base of the leaf into a pocket so that the exuvia was away from my body, with a view to getting it home safely so that I could examine it and confirm its ID. What I didn't reckon with was brushing against some foliage - which completely destroyed it! I was pleased that I'd taken some shots of it in-situ, and believe my ID, as noted above, is the most likely.

A Four-spotted Chaser was on a distant reed that it was impossible to get nearer to. This was a pity as it was one with quite extensive black markings on the wings, heading towards f. praenubila.

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) (male) - Saltersford Valley CP
There were a few Black-tailed Skimmers in the area, having the occasional squabble over territories. Two of them obliged by perching within photographic reach. One of these had a very noticeable kink in its abdomen.
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) (male) - Saltersford Valley CP
I then made my way back to the first lake and, where there once was a picnic area before Covid times, I stopped to re-scan for dragons. To my utter amazement, a Brown Hawker seemed to be ovipositing in between the the timbers on landward side of the stockade-like wooden walling that forms the boundary between the picnic area and the lake. I stood my ground and she slowly made her way towards me, continually dipping between the timbers, eventually arriving at a point less than half a metre from my feet! It was only me stepping back at this juncture that made her cease her activities and depart.
Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) (ovipositing female) - Saltersford Valley CP
As I started to make my way back to the car, I found a Ruddy Darter beside the path.
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) (male) - Saltersford Valley CP
Thus ended a most enjoyable visit.
Wednesday, 13th July              Heather Lake
Following a disappointing visit in mid-June, I decided to give Heather Lake another try. The vegetation was even higher than on my previous visit and the brambles more obstructive. It was difficult to see anything over the water.
On my way down to the lake there was a confiding, but very worn, Comma which was defending a territory on the track.

Comma (Polygonia c-album) - near Heather Lake
The only damselflies that I saw and managed to photograph were Common Blue Damselflies, and although I saw some Emperor dragonflies, I only managed a poor shot of an ovipositing blue-form female.
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (male) - Heather Lake
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (female) - Heather Lake
Emperor (Anax imperator) (ovipositing female) - Heather Lake
The only other things of interest seen were two species of day-flying moths - both quite common.
Udea lutealis - Heather Lake
Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata) - Heather Lake
On my way back, the tatty Comma was still holding territory in the same place.

The disappointment of the state of things at this place which, in previous years, had been a great favourite, has made me reluctant to return this year. I shall see what next year brings.

Sunday, 31st July                           Saltersford Valley Country Park

We come to the very end of the month, with me having only made four trips out to photograph wildlife - a visit to the Ashby Canal on 5th July has appeared on a previous blog post. My fourth trip out was to Saltersford Valley CP once more.
On the boardwalk, I found a battle-scarred Black-tailed Skimmer devouring a Blue-tailed Damselfly. In the second image you can see that the legs of the damselfly are being discarded. 

Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) (male) - Saltersford Valley CP
Further along, I found a Ruddy Darter that was very cooperative in changing its pose on its favoured resting point to give me some decent photo opportunities.

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) (male) - Saltersford Valley CP
On other areas of the site, I found Azure and Common Blue Damselflies.
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) (female) - Saltersford Valley CP
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (male) -Saltersford Valley CP
I also photographed a few insects. The Peacock butterfly is one of our most common butterflies, but it is quite spectacular!
Peacock (Aglais io) - Saltersford Valley CP
Hoverflies of various species were around in good numbers, but I only paid attention to a couple of them. You can tell that the first is a male, as it has eyes that meet in the middle, and the second is a female as the eyes are well-separated. This is a general rule for hoverflies.
hoverfly, Mythropa florea (male) - Saltersford Valley CP
hoverfly, Helophilus pendulus (female) - Saltersford Valley CP
Back at the boardwalk, the Black-tailed Skimmer had sated its appetite and was seeking somewhere to rest and digest its lunch. This gave me a better photo opportunity and shows just how worn this individual was.
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) (male) - Saltersford Valley CP
As I headed back to the car, I found this Emerald Damselfly lurking in a shady place, away from the water.
Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) (male) - Saltersford Valley - CP
It had been a rewarding visit, and this place is now firmly one of my favourite local dragon hotspots.
My next blog post, hopefully in about a week's time, is probably going to be an account of July's visitors to our garden. I'm slowly getting there and nearly up to date!

In the meantime, please take good care of yourselves and Nature. Thank you for dropping by - - - Richard



  1. Having problems leaving comments and signing in. A lovely set of odonata photos and good to see you have seen a few species. I must admit I seem to have lost my mojo at the moment with the dragonflies. Cant really be bothered if im honest. Take care.

    Marc Heath

    1. It seems that there's a major problem with Google and Blogger sign-ins at the moment, Marc. It's been going on for a while now, and it's time they sorted it out!

      I'm so sorry to hear that you've lost your enthusiasm for the odonata. I hope that it's just a temporary thing. Maybe it's leading the groups that has taken the edge off things for you? It's a totally different experience to being able to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. This year has been a bit of a difficult year for dragonflies and damselflies locally, and the drought has probably not done them any favours for the forthcoming year or so either!

      Best wishes - stay safe - - - Richard

  2. Hi Richard! So lovely nature observations.

    1. Nature does have its cruel side, but is usually a delight to observe, Anne!

  3. Hello Richard
    I've been following your dragonfly photos for a long time and I'm always amazed at how beautiful they are and how you put them in the right light, thanks for showing
    Greetings Frank

    1. Dragonflies are amazing creatures, Frank, and beautiful to observe. Did you know that dragonflies are one of the few creatures that intercept their prey? Most wildlife will chase their prey from behind, but dragonflies can predict the flight trajectory of their prey so that they both arrive at the same time!

  4. The shots of the Grey Heron are quite amazing, Richard. Sometimes it just all comes together, doesn't it? As Frank mentions above, your pictures of odenates are always beautiful. When you see the condition of their wings, as is equally true for butterflies, you sometimes wonder how they can still fly. Perhaps you will not mind me pointing out that Helophilis pendulus and Mythropa florea are incorrectly identified as damselflies. I am sure it is simply a momentary lapse of attention. Best wishes from sunny, pleasant Ontario - where a little rain would be very welcome. David

    1. Thank you for spotting my errors, David! I'm not sure what was happening in my head at the time. I'd actually made the same mistake in the text that preceeded the images of the hoverflies, and corrected it before publishing, but hadn't spotted that I'd perpetuated the mistake in the captions.

      The Grey Heron shots were two of a sequence of around ten shots and I had great difficulty in deciding which ones to include as I was pleased with them all !

      It's pleasantly cool and quite dull here at the moment and we have had the occasional rain shower too, but much much more rain is needed.

      Best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

  5. Nice post Richard, I hope you get this because it will mean my blog is fully active again. Take care,

    1. All present and correct, Mike! Blogger is being a real pain with sign-ins and comments at the moment. Thank you for your tenacity

      Stay safe - - - Richard

  6. I know you must have been happy to not only be out and about, but to discover a pretty diverse group of odes waiting for you!

    Outstanding photographs are what we have come to expect and, once again, you fulfill our wishes! Wow! The Brown Hawker ovipositing was curious and amazing. As you have pointed out before, I continue to marvel at how our respective environments produce some odes so similar yet others which are so different.

    Very nice work on the heron landing! That is not an easy photograph to accomplish successfully.

    All is good on this side of the pond. Happy to hear you had a bit of rain but we're still dancing as you need a bit more from all reports.

    Gini and I hope you and Lindsay stay well and are able to enjoy the remainder of the week.

    1. Thank you, Wally. I'm still heavily reliant on the scattergun approach to photography, followed by a degree of post-processing. That way, I stand a chance of getting something acceptable. It's not unusual for me to take around 400 shots in a two hour session and end up only keeping ten to fifteen. That heron landing was pure luck that I'd got the camera set appropriately and that the auto-focus worked well.

      I'm currently trying to push myself to get out more often, but there's so much that needs my attention at home, and then there's all the medical appointments (mine and Lindsay's) too which, because of distance and waiting time, take up much of one's time and energy for the day. It's not easy! Hopefully it's all going to settle down soon. Next week it's eyes, ears, and teeth for me!

      As I write this, we are enjoying a light rain shower - keep on dancing, please!

      It's good to know that all is well over there. Best wishes to you and Gini. Take good care - - - Richard

  7. Better late than never....A belated look in had me enjoy a read through your latest July local visits Richard, in particular the hoverfly incidentals seen, an area I've recently become interested in this year.


    1. Hi Pete. Have you got the WildGuides 'Britain's Hoverflies' book? I find it an excellent aid to hoverfly ID. They are fascinating creatures, and I was surprised to find that some of them have an aquatic larval stage - something that I know you are already aware of.

      Take good care and stay safe - - - Richard

  8. Unas fotos extraordinarias, he disfrutado mucho leyendo y viendo este reportaje. Enhorabuena Richard, un fuerte abrazo desde el norte de España.

    1. Gracias, Germán. Me complace saber que lo disfrutó. ¡Los mejores deseos desde Inglaterra, donde ahora hace mucho más fresco y ha llovido! Cuídate mucho - - - Richard

  9. Hello Richard, I do hope my comment is published, as this is the third time I have tried, once yesterday, and this morning, and now, lets hope this is third time lucky. It's incredibly annoying as advertisements replace my comment, and it keeps happening when I visit other blogs.

    Your images are spectacular, and I learnt a few things which is always a bonus. The beautiful captures of the Brown Hawker was surprising in that I always thought that dragonflies did their oviposting in, or near water. Another thing that I didn't realise is the way in which they hunt, capturing their prey head on rather than behind, and I also didn't suspect that dragonflies consumed damselflies. Oh how cruel nature can be! I learnt that the eyes of the female Hoverfly have a space between them, whereas the male's are placed together. The beauty of the damselflies is always thrilling to see, and I saw first hand some red ones last week, yet to be identified. Many thanks for your delightful images, and informative post Richard.
    Take care, and my best wishes.

    1. For me, Sonjia, to know that you found this blog post interesting and informative is as gratifying as I could wish for - thank you.

      Thank you also for being tenacious with your attempts to leave a comment. Blogger's handling of the comment facility has been dire for too long. It's time they sorted it out.

      I hope that you are continuing to mend and are becoming more comfortable. Take good care and stay safe - - - Richard

  10. Hello again Richard, :=) I meant to write oviposit not what I wrote.

    1. It's confession time, Sonjia - when I first became interested in dragonflies I thought that the word was 'ovipost' and not 'oviposit !

  11. What a fab set of photos and the Grey Heron is amazing.
    Nigel is in the UK at the moment, his father passed on, on Monday. He will probably fly back home on Wednesday, then we will both drive back to the UK for the funeral. I am hoping to get a post done before I go but nothing certain!!
    Take care, best wishes to you both Diane

    1. I'm sorry to hear of the passing of your father-in-law, Diane. My heart-felt condolences to you both. Be careful with your travel arrangements when you come to UK for the funeral as there seems to be chaos with flights and trains at the moment. You might want to build in some buffer-time in case of delays.

      My very best wishes to you both - - - Richard

  12. The flights sort of went as planned though the return flight was very late due to engine problems and waiting for it to be fixed!! We are both driving over next,, but we see at present there are queues at Calais, Hopefully, this is because of the returning Brits from holidays!

    1. I get the impression that a lot of the delays at Calias are due to increased border controls and reduced border controllers, due to Brexit, Diane. I hope that things have eased by the time that you travel. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you. Best wishes - - - Richard


Please Note: Blogger seems to be making it difficult for some (many?) people to leave comments on blogs, and also making it difficult for the recipient of comments to detect that a comment has been left. If you have any difficulties leaving a comment on the blog, please feel free to email me on However, if you are solely trying to promote your own blog or business by leaving a link in your comment, it will be blocked. If anyone wants to find you as a result of a comment that you have left, they can do so by looking at your profile.

Please, Blogger, get this mess sorted out.