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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The Foot-High Club

Taking a break from finishing off the photos from Compton Acres today to bring you a pair of Dragonflies mating in mid-air. Quite tricky to photograph but I’m pleased to have got some half-decent shots.  Rather than joining the mile-high club as is the phrase with such activities on an aeroplane, these guys are joining the foot-high club as they stayed near the water’s surface.

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Mating pair
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Mating pair
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Mating pair
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Accidental extreme close-up!
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Male resting
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Male resting

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 🙂

Details

It’s been a while! Sorry to regular readers. I went down with some kind of virus and wasn’t up to much for about 10 days, which seemed to trigger more anxiety than usual, and then going back to work this last week has been exhausting. To top it off I had to have my last remaining wisdom tooth pulled out yesterday so it hasn’t been the best of times lately. However, things are on the up now. I have a sore mouth but am otherwise feeling a lot better.

So I thought I’d have a look at the Weekly Photo Challenge, and I must admit I literally LOLed (laughed out loud) when I saw the theme was “Details”. What could be more perfect for me and my favourite type of photography! I haven’t got any brand new photos thanks to the illness and the current weather (soggy), but I do have some you haven’t seen yet, so here you go – take a look at these details 🙂

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My first Common Darter of this year. Love the detail of the eyes, hairs and wings.
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Toadflax flowers. Funny flowers which look like they have beards!
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Bumblebee letting me get very close and have a look at his hairy mouthparts
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Honeybee posing. Nice pollen sacks!
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Sunlit fern – you can see the details of the spores (dots along the fronds) with the backlighting
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Azure Damselfly showing off her lovely colours
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Honeybee in a Dog Rose – if you peek into flowers you may find they have passengers!
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Bumblebee in a Foxglove – I had to wait for him to come out as they get completely inside the flower and disappear from view
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Dog Rose details – focused on the stamens inside the flower, but look at the funny bobbly bits underneath – interesting details
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Grasshopper & friend – I was actually looking at the grasshopper and didn’t notice the spider at first!
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Raindrops on grass – I like how the droplets seem to defy gravity

Fresh Dragon

I’ve been excited to find fresh damsels emerging lately but yesterday I hit the jackpot! I was wandering round the village pond seeing what I could see when I stumbled upon this little lady (at least as far as I can tell, it’s female). I was so excited! As she developed I worked out that she was a Broad-Bodied Chaser, though at first it was hard to tell.

So here she is when I first spotted her at about 9:15am (according to the time recorded by my camera).

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Here she is at 9:40am. The veins in her wings are more distinct and her abdomen has filled out and is broadening into the broad-bodied shaped.

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Next shot was about 10:05am. She’s got more colour in her wing veins and her abdomen is appearing more solid, rather than quite so see-through as it was before. The edges of her abdomen are showing the spots you see on the grown-up dragons of this type.

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This one was taken at 10:20am when I was pleased to see that her wings were now ready to start moving. Not quite ready for flying yet but she had put them out to soak up the sun. She looked almost like a grown-up at this point, but just a little clumsy.

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And here she is at 10:30am. I had to go home soon after this as I was beginning to melt! It was hot and sunny and my wellies were soaking in the sun and burning my feet! I squelched home as I was so sweaty!! LOL. In this one you can see the dark colouring on the wings where they join her body. Other than her slightly wonky wing placement she looks about cooked 🙂 I don’t think she would have been there much longer so I’m not too sad I had to leave.

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One more just because I like it – look at those beautiful eyes 😀 I may be weird but I generally say thank you to creatures that allow me to photograph them. I said a big thank you to this lovely lady for putting up with me peering in her face when she wasn’t able to fly away from me. I don’t think she minded too much though.

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The Simpler the Better

I was working from home on Tuesday and decided to make the most of this and go for a lunchtime walk to the village pond as the sun was shining. When I arrived I was lucky enough to see 3 dragonflies! I took lots of photos, as you can imagine, but I’ve realised that although the focus and sharpness is probably about the same for many of them, the simplest ones look the best.

One of the definitions of the word ‘Spare’ (this week’s photography challenge) is “elegantly simple”, so I’m hoping that these shots fit the bill:

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Compare that first one with this one which is at a similar angle but is not so ‘spare’ and you’ll see what I mean about the difference:

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All the stuff going on in the background detracts from the beauty of the dragonfly. I hope that as I continue to improve my photography I’ll be able to be more picky and just show off my very best ‘spare’ shots and you’ll never even know about the busy shots! 🙂

I also attempted to take pictures of this dragon and his lady-friend while they were flying – with a degree of success, but they’re not as well focused as I’d like.

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For your info these are Broad-Bodied Chaser dragonflies.

Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Spare.

First of the season

Anyone would think I was obsessed with Damselflies – I’ve just realised the featured image for the last 3 posts has been a damsel! However it’s not just damsels – I am also a little obsessed with Dragonflies!

And joy of joys I saw my first dragon of the year at the weekend 🙂

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This was, I believe, a fairly freshly emerged Four-Spotted Chaser.

Lurking with intent

On Monday afternoon (a bank holiday here in the UK) I ventured out while the sun was shining for a nice walk. That was when I spotted yesterday’s damsel. Whilst dragons and damsels look beautiful and elegant when they’re all grown up, they start life in the pond as larvae and I’ve discovered this year that if I look carefully I can find Dragonfly larvae lurking and hunting! What a discovery! 🙂

So every time I’m at the pond now I look closely for what appears to be small areas of sediment that suddenly sprout legs and scuttle across the bottom of the pond, with their eyes on the many tadpoles. Up to now, in any photos I’ve taken, it’s been near impossible to distinguish the larva from the sediment. But on Monday I was nosing round the edges of the pond and spotted a soggy area where there was a lot of grass and weed in the pond margin, and tadpoles were gathered. I thought to myself ‘I wonder if there are dragons lurking’ and sure enough, there were! Hurrah!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Time

Time can seem endless, and yet pass so swiftly at the same time.

Some creatures’ lives are so short and yet so much changes during the time they live.

This is a caterpillar of the Drinker Moth, spotted in the garden in January:

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Drinker Moth caterpillar

It’s hard to believe that after some time passes it becomes this fluffy moth (photo taken in July a couple of years back).

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Adult Drinker Moth

 

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Adult Drinker Moth

As well as butterflies and moths, one of my favourite insects undergoes a dramatic transformation over time. Dragonflies spend a large proportion of their lives underwater (one or two years usually) and then when their time in that form is up, they emerge from the water and burst out of their larval shape. They blossom into the amazing, beautiful winged form I know and love, and spend the rest of their days in flight, bringing wonder to all who see them.

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Empty casing from a newly emerged Dragonfly
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A friendly Common Darter

And just because this is my blog and I can do what I want… here’s my most favourite photo I’ve ever taken of a dragonfly 🙂

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I love this photo so much
(This photograph is available for purchase as a digital download)

Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Time

Chasing Victory

Back in the summer I was walking in the gardens in Bournemouth, looking out for Beautiful Demoiselles. All of a sudden there was something new! A big dragonfly whizzing about. And it was one I’d never seen before! So of course I wanted a photo. The tricky part was trying to keep up with it and then get close enough for a decent shot before it flew off again. Thankfully I was victorious and got a few half-decent shots of this lovely Golden-Ringed Dragonfly 🙂IMG_7777-EditIMG_7784-EditIMG_7790-Edit

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Victory.”

November Treats

I had a double treat today!

The sun came out – treat number one – and I had a lovely, surprisingly warm walk round the village.

And treat number two was a dragonfly! I thought they were all gone for the year, but I guess the unusually warm day brought one out again.

So here are my November treats…

Common Darter Dragonfly:

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Droplets on Moss & Grass:

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Fly on an Autumn leaf:

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Autumn colours:

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More droplets on grass:

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Treat.”

Mutual Attraction

I’m beginning to wonder if I have bit of a mutual attraction thing going on with dragonflies! You know how much I love them, right? Well, it appears they’re getting quite fond of me too, at least they’re fond of my feet!

Last weekend while watching my daughter and friends doing a cross-country competition, this little guy (Common Darter) came and sat on my welly boot for quite some time (while it was attached to my foot). Me and my friend’s daughter peered at it and took photos while it just calmly sat there.

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And then yesterday another dragonfly took a liking to my foot as I sat next to the village pond watching 3 different species of dragonfly flying about. This one is a Southern Hawker female, and she was busy ovipositing (laying eggs) around the edges of the pond and apparently decided my shoe was a great spot to do this from. She spent quite some time there and wasn’t bothered about my camera lens looming towards her. She even came and went a few times, having a fly around the pond and then returning to me to continue. I felt very fortunate and only had to move in the end as I was getting too hot, sat there in the sun!

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Thank you Ms Southern Hawker, it was lovely to meet you 🙂

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Perhaps I should experiment with footwear and see if I can attract any other species with different pairs of shoes! 😉