Thursday, 13 July 2017

Chasing around Stargate

The 'changeable' north east weather is starting to do me head in.
Was looking forward to a nice hot sunny day today, retiring last night thinking I'd be off to Kibblesworth for a large scale dragon hunt. This morning it was all change with a forecast of early sunshine, then variable amounts of cloud by late morning and the afternoon largely a write-off, with temperatures now about 5 degrees below the projected 21 of yesterday.

A quick change of plan, I decided to trek up to Stargate (as it doesn't take so long and there are no buses involved) for a last go at photographing Broad-bodied Chasers, as I hadn't done this cracker of a dragonfly justice for the last couple of years now, the powder blue male in particular had proved elusive. I'd never been up here later than mid-June for the Chasers so didn't know what to expect, but as I walked up in strong sunshine and sweaty heat, what I did expect was the sun to disappear as I arrived on site after completing the 50 minute trek, and guess what; it did :-(

A mix of sunny and cloudy spells over the next couple of hours meant dragon hunting was patchy. The lack of damsels was baffling, the three blue species were present but in far smaller numbers than expected, I fear the downpours and long periods without sunshine have really had an effect on the bumper early season crop of damsels.
A few teneral Common Darters were taking their first flights and small numbers of immatures 'darted' about, a single Four-spotted Chaser was seen, and two of my target species were present. No females seen, but a couple of male Broad-bodied Chasers searched the margins and occasionally skirmished.

After a while I traced one to his perch, a small stick of dead emergent vegetation under shade of a pond-side tree. He kept coming back to this same perch over and over, and though in not the most convenient of places to approach, I was able to get in position while he was away and await his return to get some fairly decent photos from a number of different angles. Mission accomplished, here's the best of the bunch :-)

The Sun (how ironic) was a bit of a spoiler with the reflective light from some angles but in others it made an 'arty' background effect. All in all quite happy with those, and here's a few I took of the Common Darters :

maturing male common darter

immature male common darter

Most mature male on site

Don't think I've ever seen such an immature male in the mating wheel before

And another maturing male

At least that mission was a success after the last couple of failures, but here we are halfway through July and its all been a bit poor after a very good May and early June. Plenty still to do, to see and to photograph, here's hoping :-/

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