Saturday, 3 July 2010

Damsels and Dragons {outside the garden}

A few weeks ago a generous friend showed me where to find damsels and dragons ------> in his garden pond!

There were numerous large red damsels flying over the pond. Many were already paired up, like this couple resting in tandem on a fern overhanging the pond. red pair 2Once paired they fly in tandem and dip down to the pond surface where the female positions the end of her abdomen beneath the water surface and lays her eggs.


A short five minute walk away was a larger body of water which provided a habitat for all sorts of busy, buzzing things. There were many large red damselflies again. This one was enjoying a little light lunch. I wonder what lunch was. It looks as big as the damsel . She munched her way steadily through it, although she does look a bit bulgy eyed in the second photo.lunch

lunch 2

There were lots and lots of these dainty blue tailed damsels, many in mating wheels like this pair. According to this website: British dragonfly society, the male forms of this species are always blue but the females have five different colour forms. Some are blue like the one mating here. The female is the lower of the pair with her abdomen curved round beneath her head.123The females may also have an olive green thorax or a pale brown thorax, and there are immature forms that can be violet or pink.

I think the two damsels below are female blue tails but they look quite different to each other. The top pic is definitely a blue tailed female but is it pale brown or olive green? I’m not certain about the next one. It’s olive green in colour but more iridescent than the other blue tails I’ve seen, the wings look as if they may be pigmented and its tail spot is not obvious. Perhaps that is just the sun catching fem 2

female damsel

Another wheel, again not sure about female type, brown or olive green?

blue pair 4

I’m pretty certain that the female in this wheel is the pale brown type.

blue pair 6 And of course we saw dragons! These four spotted chasers could be seen whirring around across the pond or settling on grasses.

chaser 1

chaser 2

Finally a whole colony of small pearl bordered fritillaries were flying in the field above the pond. They were very restless, flitting from one flower to another, rarely staying more than a few seconds. Tantalising when I have never seen, let alone photographed a fritillary before. I couldn’t get close enough so this pic was taken in frustration with the digital zoom. According to UK butterfies they are a priority species for conservation.223Many thanks to Errol for a wonderful afternoon at the dragon’s lair.