Wednesday, 8 September 2010

One more look

I made the most of the Indian summer and set off to look for dragonflies. The damsels are all but done now, just an odd blue-tailed and emerald have been seen this last week, a few darters are still about, but the hawkers are still active. So much so that one flew ahead of me as I drove down the lane to the litter pit, where a male common darter looked in through the passenger window when I parked up!

The hawkers never settle, and their flight paths are so unpredictable they are tricky to frame in flight. There were brown hawkers around, at least two, and another smaller hawker that I couldn't get an ID on. I'm guessing at migrant hawker, but it is a guess.

I was photo-less until I spotted a male common darter perched atop a reedmace head. Maybe it's the time of year but it was readily approachable. The only problem being that the reedmace was well in the bed and I got wet feet framing my arty shots - I couldn't get close enough for anything more detailed! What was evident, even on the LCD screen was that the first shots I tool with the 70-30 were far less clear than the ones I took with the 150, even though the darter was smaller in the frame with the former.

Approachable darter

A brief look at the newt ponds was pleasant but not much was seen apart from another possible migrant hawker that refused to have it's portrait taken. Home or the dragonfly pond? With the sun still shining and warm I took the latter option. Alas an overturned lorry caused me to arrive about fifteen minutes later than I should have, by which time the sun was just off the pond. Nonetheless a brown hawker was flying and a couple more took to the wing ahead of me. I followed one visually and it settled. A little high, but it settled. I took one shot as a record shot before creeping up on the insect. I didn't get any closer before it flew off. They are quite skittish. Also quite cryptic when resting and the first sign I get is when one takes off in front of me.

Unapproachable hawker

It was pretty quiet, apart from a brown hawker making an occasional foray over the pond or  round the surrounding trees and shrubs. Another hawker flew past me, close to the water's edge, when I was looking at the marginal plants and sniffing the water mint. Probably a brown hawker, but it looked more olive.

Leaving the dragonfly pond I went for a mooch round the hidden pond thinking that it should still be in sunlight, which it was. As I approached the water it crossed my mind that I had yet to see one of the fabled black darters known to frequent this pond. No sooner had I had the thought that I saw a black darter! It proved to be a confiding one that was intent on soaking up the last of the sun by basking on a fence post. I spent quite some time photographing it, even having the time to fit a couple of extension tubes and get in really close without it flitting away. I still managed to leave the ISO setting on auto and mess up the first lot of shots...


It would fly up at times but settle straight back down on the post - once on my head! Eventually my model got bored and deserted me. I carried on round the pond and saw another darter fly into a hawthorn where it perched on a haw on an inner branch. This had the making of a great photo, but the physical approach to a good viewpoint was blocked by branches. I did the best my capabilities allowed but it was not really good enough.

What might have been

The evening light was glorious. Typical of this time of year. I should have made more of it, but my bones were tired and my stomach empty.

Must try harder

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