Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Emperors Go Wild

Released from my self imposed watching duties in the walled kitchen garden, yesterday I took a freedom tour to the other ponds on the Tyntesfield Estate. I've lived on the estate for over a decade, but I never knew of the existence of Warren Pond until a National Trust estate guide told me of it. I'm slightly ashamed about this as it's not particularly hidden, in fact it even has a sign post. 

Anyway, it was pond love at first sight. I watched Broad-bodied chasers duelling, mating and egg laying and was briefly visited by a Banded Demoiselle, to me the most seductive of all the dragonfly family that I have so far encountered. A year ago I didn't know what a Broad-bodied chaser was, I'm now familiar with half a dozen or so species, so my journey of discovery has really only just begun.

Having been tantalised at the kitchen garden pond, I determined to try and catch some photos of dragonflies in flight. I took about 200 shots with my very modest camera without great success, but I did definitely improve with both camera operation and fieldcraft.

Later I moved on to another pond near to Home Farm and the 'scrotum tree' as it's colloquially known (to me at least). Here I had the joyous discovery of an Emperor Dragonfly male hawking back and forth across the pond. He stopped briefly for a generous portrait and then continued on the wing, mating with a visiting female who then withdrew to the pond margins to lay her eggs. Another 200 or so photos and a milestone in a my photography as I managed to get him in flight AND in focus.

Two Broad-bodied chaser males having a territorial battle... and nearly in focus.

Banded Demoiselle with damselfly escort

Damsel, Demoiselle and Chaser - like a Bambi scene for dragonflies.

Male Emperor Dragonfly - a triumph for photographic persistence.

Female Emperor Dragonfly laying eggs.

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