Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Before the Rains . . .

On Sunday we had a family day out to Cragside, and very nice it was too (unlike last week's nightmare at Hamsterley).

On the way up there a high-flying Red Kite just south of the river Coquet was the furthest north I've seen one (in England). And once there, highlights were a Red Squirrel trotting nonchalantly across the path in front of the kids, a Humming-bird Hawk Moth (first I've seen in a few years), umpteen Red Admirals, and a visit to the Slipper Tarn, which (despite being too early for Black Darters) was alive with dragons and damsels.
Four-spotted Chasers were the most numerous dragonfly on show, first I've seen here but I've never visited in June before, though the best sighting was a patrolling male Moorland Hawker, first of the year and possibly the earliest I've seen, fully mature so he's been out for a good few days now.

Yip that's a Moorland Hawker dead centre

Also a couple of teneral hawkers (probably Southern but can't be certain) made their maiden flights from the emergent vegetation, one of which somehow narrowly avoided becoming a meal for a Jay as it rose up to the treetops.
Emerald damsels were also emerging on the day, and a few Large Reds, Azure and Blue-tailed made up the numbers.

Liked how the sunlight caught this tandem pair of large reds

Azure female

Immature Emerald female, first decent shot of the year for this species

And a bit closer
All in all a pleasant day out.

Back to Saturday and a pictorial round-up (though not a very good one) of some of the other dragons I saw at Bowes Valley NR while simultaneously dipping the Red-veined Darter :

Teneral Common Darter female, one of three I saw on the day 

Four-spotted Chasers proved incredibly difficult to catch perched up

I followed this one to his roosting perch when the sun disappeared, but the wind made it a bit tricky to
get a good angle 

Broad-bodied Chasers were also very flighty but at times alighted on the bare earth 

But I had to be quick as they didn't stay still for long and invariably rose up if I tried to approach

Females were even worse, not landing at all, so I tried to catch them in action while ovipositing

Not too bad for flight shots

Last chance for a male Broad-bodied, again though didn't allow me to get close before he was off

I think frustrating is the best word I can use to describe that little lot, happily I got the good shots of the Skimmers (see previous post) otherwise with dipping the R-v Darter as well, the four mile (plus) walk involved might have seemed a lot longer :-/

On Monday I met up with Ron H who joined me on a Demoiselle safari along the Derwent. The weather wasn't great, the lack of sunshine kept the females away from the river but still good enough for a few hopeful male Bandeds to appear and I'm sure Ron was happy with the photo opportunities which came his way (see NotManyWords for the results.) He returned the favour by kindly becoming a magnet for the Cleg Flies with at least three bites, while I remained unscathed and unbothered by them (Cheers Ron). I was quite happy to let Ron get the shots on this visit, my efforts were mainly distant and/or blurred. Only one male settled in really good view :

My best pics were of a Longhorn Beetle as we walked back through the meadow, another of the common Rutpela maculata species :

 That's the third individual of that species I've had in the last few days, and all have shown different  amounts of yellow and black. This isn't unusual it's a very varied species though the pattern always seems based on the same template :

Three Longhorns, same species, same area, different patterns, worth looking out for.

Since Monday it's been a bit damp to say the least, and looks to be staying that way for the rest of the week, so a good time to catch up. Here's hoping for a few more dragon days before long, so much to see, so little time :-O.

1 comment:

  1. Happy to take the bites to see those cracking Demoiselles