Friday, 6 July 2012

Damsels and Dragons

At this time of year many of our feathered friends are beginning to moult out of their spring plumage. This change of clothes, the stresses of seeking a mate and raising a brood can leave some birds a little run down. Perhaps feeling a little vulnerable, the smaller birds tend to be less showy, lingering instead in the deeper foliage. Waterfowl are already well into their “eclipse”, and much less striking to look at.

As a result I tend to look for other subjects for my photography. However, this year that has been far from easy. The cool and wet weather has been a real bugbear, severely limiting the numbers of days I have been able to get out and about. Yesterday was a bit different though, being warm and sunny.
After work I wandered over to Tophill to see if I could find some dragonflies. A few days earlier I had found a good patch for newly emerged Four-Spot Chasers, so I decided to make a return, but this time with camera to hand.

These really are magnificent creatures, spending most of their time on the wing surveying their territory and searching for food. Occasionally another would enter the patch and you could hear the clashes of wings as they duelled mid-air. However, from time to time one would settle on a bulrush head and provide some stunning views of those marvellous but delicate wings. Ever on the alert, even at rest, the dragonfly continues to watch what is going on around it, often tipping its head skywards looking out for prey or interlopers.

One tip: when dragonflies do land they face their bodies towards the sun. Photographing them with the sun behind you is much less frustrating!!

I had chosen one of the pools created around the site. While the Four-Spots flew a couple of metres above the water, it was interesting to note that well below them, and amongst the reeds and grasses was a myriad of Common Blue Damsels. I guess that they felt relatively safe at those lower levels. However, one or two did stray a bit too high, and were very quickly spotted. Some were very lucky to avoid being devoured.

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