Observing Dragons

This last week has seen an explosion of activity on the odonata front.  Not surprising really, after the awful spring we are now in full-on summer mode.  Early morning and it’s emergence time at the pond.  As the heat builds the damselflies are returning in numbers to mate and lay eggs.  So much to see I’m struggling to decide where to venture to next.

“Oi! Get that thing out of my face!” Looks like Mr Grumpy got out of the wrong side of the pond this morning. Newly emerged Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
A trip to Hickling Broad produced this pleasing shot of a female Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa)
Also at Hickling this rather pretty damselfly. Female Blue-tailed (Ischnura elegans) colour form rufescens
Spotted this immature female Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas) last week at the Cut-off Channel. Quite common but not a species I see that often
The Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense) is difficult to photograph as it’s always on the move in sunny weather. This lady caught a rather large lunch so had to settle to eat it nicely. Most dragons eat their prey in flight
Circle of life. The Large Red Damselflies (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) are returning to my pond to mate and lay eggs

With most very rare species I find myself hitting the road and travelling for hours to see them.  Not so with one dragonfly.  In the County of Norfolk the Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) can only be found in two adjacent ponds and as luck would have it they are just ten minutes away.  I won’t name the ponds due to the fragile nature of this species hanging on and limited access though most keen dragonfly enthusiasts know of them.  Yesterday (7th) I managed to obtain my first half decent images.  The males constantly patrol the pond margins and if they settle it’s high up on a leaf in the overhanging canopy.  The lighting is not ideal as you are looking into the sun.  No matter, I came home with a big grin on my face (just don’t ask how many shots I took to get six reasonable ones!).

Downy Emerald (male) Norfolk

If you haven’t done so already why not check out this page https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/british-damsel-dragonflies/

58 thoughts on “Observing Dragons

  1. Great photos Brian! You’re obviously spoilt for choice at the moment – let’s hope the ‘heatwave’ continues! (I’m also now in the UK, though not officially allowed out to take any nice photos. However, we are very near quite a large pond, so I should go over and investigate).

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      1. Just been to have a quick look but it seems to be linked to the estuary and tides. I presume salty water is not what sonata are looking for? I didn’t see anything anyway though my bird (listening) app tells me there was an osprey about and a sedge warbler. Plenty of sheep too. If I said we were ‘Prisoners’ you may guess where we are.

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      2. I am not a number, I’m a free man (or at least I wish I was)! I did take a little wander along the coastal path yesterday and half expected the white balloon to appear. We’re actually on the opposite side to Portmeirion, in a place called Ynys. (Got to love the Welsh language and their lack of vowels. I can’t pronounce half the place names around here!)

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  2. Wow. These shots are amazing, Brian. I am glad that things have finally picked up for you on the dragonfly/damselfly front, given the rough spring that you had. I am in awe of so many shots–my favorites are probably the Large Red Damselflies in tandem and the in-flight shot of the Downy Emerald. I can really appreciate both the beauty of the subjects and the difficulty in getting those shots. I also love the head-on shot of the damselfly that you used to start the posting–a lot of folks don’t like to event try a shot like that because they know so little will be in focus–you captured the personality of the damselfly perfectly. 🙂

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    1. Yes it’s been slow Mike but more species are emerging almost daily.
      Really pleased you like the shots and appreciate the difficulty in getting them but the results can be worth all the effort and it’s fun!


  3. Quite the hall there B.! Oven is on full here in the Midwest which has the few Dragons we do have out in about – seems like I am constantly seeing Skimmers hanging out in the dirt on the running trails – could be that is normal and you have just made me more aware of them than usual.

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  4. Oh my goodness, Brian. These are spectacular! You really nail the focus and composition. 🙂 Are the red damselflies in the act of mating? Seems off – kilter and a curious pose.

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  5. This is a great collection of superb photographs! Love that first one of Mister Grumpy. Wonderful detail.

    Congratulations on not only finding a Downy Emerald, but managing to photograph it in flight! (Yep, I have thousands of blurry dragon-in-flight images so I empathize on what you went through to get a good one!)

    Time for a new week already!

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