Yesterday was the first time I’ve ever seen female (on the left) and male Migrant hawkers together. These two were hanging on a fence at Goldcliff lagoons, near Newport. What a treat!
What’s bright yellow, flies like a helicopter, has relatively huge eyes that are half reddish-brown and half blue, and can sometimes be found in marshy, reed-filled areas in the south-west of Britain?
I wasn’t sure until I looked it up but it seems this stunning creature that I photographed at Cosmeston a couple of days ago is an immature male Red-veined darter.
Today’s lunchtime snack for this Southern hawker dragonfly had a sting in the tail: it was a wasp. The dragonfly, though, started its meal from the other end, first devouring the head, then removing the wings, before steadily munching its way down the body.
This was obviously not good news for the wasp but it was good news for me, as this was the first Southern hawker that’s stayed still long enough this year for me to grab some photos.
The Migrant hawker’s name is somewhat misleading – it does still like to migrate away from where it was hatched and was once only seen in Britain when it migrated here from Europe. But, since the 1940s, ever increasing numbers have come here and this species does now breed in Britain, where its range continues to expand northwards.
I’ve seen a few of these dragonflies this year but today was the first time one has settled long enough for me to get a few photos. That was probably because, despite our high daytime temperatures, it is now quite a bit cooler at night, and, as I was out relatively early this morning, I found this little one still basking in the sun trying to warm up.
Common darters are the dragonflies I see most often at this time of year, and what gorgeous odonata they are! I think these are male and female – the problem is that immature males look a lot like females and my photos haven’t captured well the tell-tale bulge that the males have. I was more interested in their winning ‘smiles’.
Oviposit: verb; a zoological term, relating especially to insects, which means to lay an egg or eggs. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word first came in to use in the early 19th century and is a combination of ‘ovi’ for egg and ‘posit’, from the Latin verb ponere, meaning to place.
Today, at Lavernock Nature Reserve, I was eating my lunch while sitting on the bench near the dragonfly pond, when this female Emperor dragonfly came along and began ovipositing, carefully manoeuvring her body to place several eggs beneath each lily pad before moving on to the next. All the while, her mate was patrolling overhead to ensure no one interfered with this important process.
I’ve been holding off sharing images of this beautiful creature, hoping that I might spot a male and so be able to share both sexes. But as that hasn’t yet happened …
This, I am reliably informed by dragonfly experts, is an older female Red-veined darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) – the fact that she’s older can be determined by the reddish colouring along the top of her torso. Though the photo above was taken on 8 July and the photo below on 20 July, I think these may well be the same female, as the location was almost exactly the same, and I’ve seen no others in that general area. You can read more about her, and see images of the stunning red males, on the British Dragonflies website.
It’s often quite difficult to catch up with Emperor dragonflies as they seem to be in constant motion, patrolling their patch or hawking for food across flower-filled fields and meadows. But I spotted this one carrying a large load, relatively speaking, and, though dragonflies will often feed as they fly, this beautiful beast decided to pause and enjoy its brunch quite near to me.
You can’t really tell from my photo but it was munching on a Meadow brown. As I watched, first one wing, then another was plucked off and discarded, before the main course was consumed. Not exactly what I’d fancy for my brunch, and I did feel a little sorry for the butterfly, but this is the reality of wild life.
I was just saying to someone the other day that I haven’t been seeing many dragonflies this year and what happens? The very next time I go walking at Cosmeston, I see several.
These two Black-tailed skimmers were the most obliging, as they tend to station themselves along the pathways through the wildflower fields, rising up as you get near them and then re-settling a little further along the path. If you watch where they land and you’re slow and quiet as you approach, you can get quite near them.