Questing for Wings in Bournemouth

I realised I never finished posting my photos from our visit to Bournemouth last month, and this set fit will with this week’s Photo Challenge: Quest. While walking around Compton Acres, and Bournemouth Gardens I was always on a quest for something interesting to photograph. As you’ll know I did take a lot of photos of flowers and sculptures, but what I was really looking for were things with wings! With quite a lot of water about in the form of ponds and streams I was hoping for Damselflies and Dragonflies, and I wasn’t disappointed 🙂

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Azure Damselfly
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Speckled Wood Butterfly
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Speckled Wood Butterfly
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Beautiful Demoiselle
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Large Red Damselfly
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Golden-Ringed Dragonfly
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Beautiful Demoiselle
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Beautiful Demoiselle

 

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Here Be Dragons

I mentioned in the previous post that I’d seen some Dragonflies on my wanderings and here they are…

Back home I spotted this Common Darter by the pond last Thursday. At first I was disappointed as I didn’t see any Dragons, but then I managed to spot this one and get a couple of shots.

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I also managed to get a couple of shots of this big chap (a Golden-Ringed Dragonfly) who was being very elusive and flying off long distances when I crept up on him. I spent quite some time stalking him before admitting defeat. These are the best shots I managed:

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Then more recently I was on my way down to Bournemouth (where I am now) and stopped over at my Mum’s in Bristol. While pottering round her garden looking at butterflies we were surprised to find another Common Darter there. There’s no pond in the garden so I’m guessing he must have been visiting from the ponds down in the fields below their house. He perched awkwardly high up so the shots are a bit different from my usual approach.

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Not only that, but then we spotted a Damselfly in the garden too! I think they came just to make me happy 🙂

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We got down to Bournemouth a couple of days ago and while the weather was half-decent we had a walk in the gardens. I did spot one or two Dragons but they were being very unhelpful so no photos of them. I did get this one shot of a Beautiful Demoiselle though:

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Hopefully if the weather perks up a bit we’ll be able to go for another stroll and perhaps I’ll catch another Dragon 🙂

Pure Joy

Apart from my garden and the village pond, I think the place I most find my joy is at Cors Caron Nature Reserve. It’s so peaceful and beautiful and full of life. There’s a feeling of pure joy just to stroll slowly in the quiet, watching insects and birds, and even lizards.

Apart from my garden and the village pond, I think the place I most find my joy is at Cors Caron Nature Reserve. It’s so peaceful and beautiful and full of life. There’s a feeling of pure joy just to stroll slowly in the quiet, watching insects and birds, and even lizards.

As you’ll know I usually focus on the small things but last time I was there I remembered to take a slightly wider shot so I could share the beauty of the place with you, not just the beauty of the creatures there. There are a couple of geese in the shot, but it’s more about the landscape 🙂

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I can’t just leave it at that though, of course.

How about a lovely Beautiful Demoiselle?

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Or a Meadow Pipit taking flight to feed her babies?

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And finally a slightly bumbling beetle – the Garden Chafer. There were loads of these guys flying around when I last visited and they didn’t seem to be very good at landing. The seemed to just drop out of the sky and then clamber up the grass to take off again. Not sure what they were looking for!

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Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Pure

Damsel Fix

I know, I know, it’s always damsels with me at the moment, but look at these beauties! Got to get my damsel fix. Enjoy 🙂

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Hungry Damsel

Damsels may be lovely to look at but they are predatory hunters. This Large Red Damselfly caught itself a spider as I was watching it at the weekend, and then proceeded to munch it up until there wasn’t much left but the legs. Lovely.

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Wildlife Garden Achieved

Today I am jubilant.

jubilant: feeling or expressing great happiness and triumph.

My aim of a wildlife garden which would attract pondlife including damselflies and dragonflies is really coming together. Since we created the pond I have seen dragons and damsels in the garden, but this is the first year that I have seen damsels actually living in my pond and emerging from it. It’s brilliant! And it’s not even just the damsels that have me feeling jubilant – there are frogs, newts, pondskaters, water crickets, diving beetles, as well as spiders, hoverflies, bees, butterflies, birds etc. etc. I haven’t been for a walk this weekend because it kept raining, but in between showers I was able to pop out to the garden and enjoy nature right there on my doorstep. And then this afternoon it brightened up and I just didn’t want to leave 🙂

Today I was lucky enough to see 2 more damsels emerging.

This one must have very recently emerged from its larval skin as its wings were still all folded tight:

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This one, nearby, hadn’t yet burst out of its larval skin:

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Due to a sudden downpour I missed the 2nd one bursting out, but I got another photo of it a little while later (with umbrella in tow):

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The first damsel had since thinned out considerably and had fully expanded its wings, but was still looking rather ghostly:

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Here’s some more of damsel 1’s development (I think damsel 1 is a female Azure Damselfly):

Here’s some more of damsel 2’s development (damsel 2 is a Large Red Damselfly):

Not only did I get to witness more emergence, but Bruce also spotted a larva still in the pond, so I managed to get some shots of that too! It was kindly sitting on a Frogbit leaf 🙂

As this post is already rather large, I’ll save the rest of my jubilation for another post! 🙂

Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant

Privilege

Today I was lucky enough to have the great privilege of witnessing a Damselfly that had just emerged from its larval stage, for the very first time. I was sat by the pond with a cup of tea, watching the newts when I suddenly noticed a pale object dangling in the grass on the other side. When I looked closer I realised it was a brand new Damselfly! As you probably know well by now, I love Dragonflies and Damselflies so this was a great wonder to me.

After emerging from its larval skin the fresh Damsel had to wait until it was ready to move off. At first it looked quite stumpy and pale:

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Within about 20 minutes it was already looking longer as it redistributed its bodily fluids into its new shape:

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I left it in peace for a while and roughly 2 hours later I checked how it was doing. I have to admit I was nervous a bird might grab it and was feeling quite protective! On my return I saw how much it had changed, looking more like a ‘normal’ damsel. The wings were longer and the black veins were showing. The abdomen was longer and thinner and more colourful. And the stripes on the thorax were now black and yellow, rather than mostly brown.

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It had become a little more active now and climbed up a bit while I was watching, from where was hanging before, so I got another shot from this angle:

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I decided to leave it in peace again but couldn’t resist a quick check a couple of hours later. I found the exuvia (larval skin) where I had last seen it:

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And not far away my beautiful new Large Red Damselfly was relaxing on a Dandelion leaf in the sunshine 🙂

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So chuffed to have been able to witness this, and in my own garden too! Brilliant 😀

I’m going to put this into the Weekly Photo Challenge: Face because that face at the end is just adorable 🙂

Face-off

I found a little corner down from the pond which seemed to be the place the cool Large Red Damselflies were hanging out. They allowed me to take some photos while they posed, and I got right in this one’s face!

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More posing Damsels:

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Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Face.

Hand in hand through their pondlife

My pond is full of life at the moment 🙂

There are newtlets galore (well, at least 6) and adult newts too (harder to get a decent shot of). The Frogbit (tiny lily pads) is resurfacing too.

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At the weekend I spotted a couple of teeny little frogs too. Only got a shot of this one.

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And the Damselflies are not only being spotted at the village pond, they are also in my garden 🙂 This Large Red Damselfly fluttered past me while I sat looking at newts and I was lucky enough to catch a shot of him.

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Fresh Damsel

This little damsel was spotted at the weekend. I thought it was a freshly emerged Common Blue female but it turns out it’s an immature male Azure. It was kind of ghostly and pale which is what made me think it was pretty fresh. And of course this is early in the season so it’s quite likely. I was pleased it stayed still for me to get some shots.IMG_3404-EditIMG_3408-EditIMG_3411-Edit

Imagine my delight …

…when I spotted this tiny beauty yesterday afternoon!

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You may not be able to tell from that shot quite how small this little damsel was, but luckily it decided my finger was a nice spot and you can get a sense of scale.

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I could hardly believe my luck as I felt it was too soon and too cold for any Damselflies or Dragonflies to be emerging yet. But there it was fluttering by in that distinctive way and I was delighted to manage to get some photos to prove I’d seen it 🙂

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For your information this is a Large Red Damselfly, though I dispute the use of the word ‘large’!

Grids?

Ok, so what is a grid really? One definition says:

a network of lines that cross each other to form a series of squares or rectangles.

If you just take the first part, I have plenty of photos… A network of lines that cross each other …

How about criss-crossing branches with a cute squirrel in their midst?

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Or criss-crossing grass stems with a confused-looking Dock Bug trying to make his way through the delicate grass flowers?

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Hmm so neither of those really say grid do they? What about this then … thinking outside the box – the National Grid – electricity. All this barbed wire is to keep people from climbing up this pole and getting zapped. Doesn’t seem to put off the Sparrows though.

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Ok, so that was stretching things somewhat.

On digging deeper though my photograph collection I found some photos which actually have real grids in them!

A daffodil trying to escape through a fence grid:

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A Common Blue Damselfly resting on a grid on the board walk at Cors Caron:

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And one of the strangest caterpillars I’ve seen – a Fox Moth caterpillar (again on the board walk at Cors Caron). This one’s worth clicking on to take a closer look. It looks like it’s been and had its hair done – all neatly wrapped round and tucked in, rather than sticking out all spiky like some of the less sophisticated caterpillars! 😉

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In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Grid.”