My first sighting was actually up at Cragside in Northumberland on May 6, where Slipper Tarn had emerging Large Reds on the day we were there, plus a few blues already on the wing.
|Not a great photo but first dragon of 2018|
Large Red damsel freshly emerged at Cragside (May 6)
First local dragons were at Kibblesworth BP on the 15th. Four types of damsel on the wing and the first dragonflies in the form of a handful of Four-spotted Chasers, a female of which I managed to snap just before she took her maiden flight.
|Four-spotted Chaser (f) recently emerged at the edge of the reedbed|
(exuvia just visible at bottom of pic)
|Flexing her wings just before taking flight for the first time|
A walk along the Bowes Valley Railway Path at Burdon Moor on the 24th gave me my first Broad-bodied Chaser, and a photographic first in that after a decade of trying I finally got a picture of an immature male in mid colour-change. A good few damsels around too.
|Immature male Broad-bodied Chaser|
At last I found one in mid-change, been a long time coming
|Quite distant at the back of the mountain of gorse so quite pleased how this photo turned out|
on 26x zoom
|A bit closer were these tandem Large Reds|
many of these around today
|A few Azure damsels giving good views too, the odd blue-tail was flitting around|
but none still enough to photograph
Another trip off-patch to Washington WWT on the 28th saw just a single pair of azure damsels ovipositing on the Forgotten Meadows Pond, but these were joined by a splendid male Broad-bodied Chaser which eventually perched close enough for a half-decent pic.
|Forgotten Meadows Pond - Washington WWT|
Male Broad-bodied Chaser gave me the runaround for a while
|Eventually settles close enough for a decent pic|
|The only other dragons present were this pair of ovipositing azures, again distant.|
Yesterday (June 2nd), a walk down the river to the Demoiselle site turned up trumps at last with a good number showing despite the lack of sunshine. This helped with photos though as they remained perched for long periods (though most too distant), only flitting up to catch a meal or re-sighting if I got too close, at least 8 males and 6 females on show.
|Start with my favourite shot|
Was only intending to snap the female at rest but as I pressed the shutter the male came in
and she spread her wings to take flight.
|Banded Demoiselle male - one of eight or more on show|
|Banded Demoiselle female - one of six or more on show|
This is the female at rest before the male disturbed her (see first shot)
|At first they were all a bit distant and happily perched up in the overcast|
but humid conditions.
|Patience paid off as I eventually got some closer shots|
|Another fairly decent close-up|
|They only took flight to intercept a meal|
This female had a Mayfly for lunch
|No idea what this male had for lunch - maybe his dodgy eye affected his vision|
Finally a great find by George at Shibdon Pond who reported seeing a Black-tailed Skimmer on June 1st. Have to say I had my doubts as it's a good couple of weeks early for that species in this area, but lo-and-behold, photographed the next day a cracking male BTS, never doubt you again George ;-)
|Black-tailed Skimmer (m)|
The first this century at Shibdon Pond, maybe ever.
More than one apparently as well, plus a Broad-bodied Chaser, so maybe after years of being quite poor for dragonflies (bar the Migrant Hawkers late summer) Shibdon could be making a comeback. And after last years imm. male BTS at Clockburn Lake, maybe this is a sign that they are at last expanding from Kibblesworth, which since 2006 has been the only breeding site in the borough.