Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Summer gives way to Autumn

As we enter the start of true autumn (not the arbitrary "metrological autumn" that starts on 1 September), the decline in the season is well underway and visits to our wetland sites generally show only a couple of species. Migrant Hawkers are still around in good numbers, with adults recorded on the Nene at Thrapston and around the main Town Lake there, the River Ise at Burton Latimer, Ditchford and Irthlingborough Greenway. All these sites also show plenty of Common Darters, with many ovipositing pairs recorded this week at the Irthlingborough site. Today at Irthlingborough, I also saw a make Southern Hawker do a fly past through the ditch. I am hoping to see more here in the next few weeks as this is a potentially great site for them. At Thrapston on Sunday, I found a single pristine male Common Blue Damselfly that I estimated had emerged within the last two weeks.

I was able to visit Summer Leys last Friday, to try out my new 600mm lens on some birds, and after a good collection of shots of a Little Egret, the short walk from the hide to the car park showed many Migrant Hawkers flying in the late afternoon sun, and several Common Darters basking on the fence posts. The 600mm only focusses to 4.5m which doesn't give great magnification for dragonflies, so these shots are cropped a little. As the evenings draw in and the sun gets lower in the sky, this is a more frequent sight on sunny days.


Sunday, 20 September 2015

Southern Hawkers showing well

My favourite site during early autumn is Fermyn Woods Country Park because the two ponds there - the Reedy Pond and the Big Pit are great places to watch Southern Hawkers. Between early September and mid October, numbers are about the best in the County. Here, the Southern Hawkers completely outnumber the other autumn species such as Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters. This afternoon (20/09), we took a walk around Fermyn which started off with good sunshine (the morning was really sunny), but soon descended into overcast conditions. I just had time to get these two in flight shots of a male on the Reedy Pond. Unfortunately, there were two fishermen on the stand on the Big Pit pond, so I wasn't able to get any shots from there but on the opposite stand I did find a female Migrant Hawker ovipositing into a piece of floating wood.

Earlier in the week, I visited the Greenway ditch at Irthlingborough and had good views of Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters including several ovipositing pairs of the latter. I haven't had too much luck with Darters this year, and haven't really achieved any successful shots of them. I also found a very old female infuscans form Blue-tailed Damselfly (thanks for the correction MT) and a single female Emerald Damselfly oviposting on the far bank. I have never noticed female Emeralds ovipositing alone before, but guess that this isn't unusual.

Last weekend, we walked around Irchester Country Park and visited the Big Foot Pond. I haven't been here for several years and it was great to see that the pond is still healthy and alive with dragons. Plenty of Common Darters were buzzing around the water and the woods were full with Migrant Hawkers and Southern Hawkers.

Watch out for Darters resting on fence posts at this time of year, absorbing as much  of the dwindling sunlight as they can.

Finally, Stuart Page reports finding two Banded Demoiselles around the Nene at Ditchford. I have not seen any for quite a while now, so this is a great late sighting.

Female Common Darter, Big Foot Pond at Irchester Country Park

Female Blue-tailed Damselfly (Infuscans colour form), Irthlingborough

Migrant Hawker, Irthlingborough

Migrant Hawker, Irthlingborough

Migrant Hawker, Irthlingborough

Southern Hawker, Reedy Pond at Fermyn Woods

Ovipositing Migrant Hawker, Big Pit Pond at Fermyn Woods

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Migrant Hawker Madness

I had a great hour at lunchtime in amongst 50+ Migrant Hawkers at Ditchford. They were all over the place and performing well for the camera. The sun was shining and the adults were too!

Taking second place to the Migrants were one Brown Hawker that struggled to fly, several Common Darters and Common Blue Damselflies.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Hundreds of Migrants

Well, the Migrants are now taking over at our main gravel pits, rivers and lakes. While the weather remains changeable, the sunny spells are bringing them out in good numbers, although I am seeing more feeding off territory than searching for females on territory. At Ditchford on Sunday, only a handful of male Migrants were showing, and a single ovipositing female managed to avoid the few males that were present. A few Brown Hawkers, Common Darters and Common Blue Damselflies were also around. I managed some in-flight shots, although they never quite positioned themselves perfectly for me. In the next few weeks, as the weather improves (so we are promised), there should be more around giving better opportunities. I did try something a little different by shooting one in to the light, which gave a rather unusual viewpoint.

At Titchmarsh Nature Reserve, on Sunday pm, there were plenty of Migrants flying around the grassland areas between the Nene and the main lake, with only one male at territory on the river. I hunted for any last remaining Banded Demoiselles but could find none. Common Darters, Common Blue Damselflies and a single Southern Hawker were the only other species present.