Our wildlife garden is quite mature now, so we were really excited today to spot our first ever four spotted chaser perched by our our wildlife pond, and even more delighted when he suddenly started zooming round and hooked up with a mate who then started ovipositing!
Meanwhile our faithful broad-bodied chaser dragonflies were busy making themselves at home in our new meadowmat flowers in the west facing Old Rose Garden…
Its been a big week for Nar Cottage’s wildlife garden as we discovered that our first “home grown” dragonfly had completed its three year lifecycle. This photo is of an emperor dragonfly nymph “exuvia”, the exoskeletal shell left behind after the nymph transforms into a dragonfly and emerges as a winged adult. The Emperor’s emergence happens overnight so sadly we didn’t see it happening.
Emperors are know as early pioneers of new ponds and were one of the very first visitors to our brand new, bare-earthed pond back in 2013. Three years on and our pond looks very different, teeming with aquatic life and surrounded by lush native plants and wildflowers creeping to cover much of its surface. The Emperor dragonflies never returned after the first season, but we continue to see lots of Broad-bodied Chasers, Southern Hawkers as well as damselflies about. Emperors will take other chaster dragonflies, so I hope our population of those survives its emergence!
The camera is hardly getting a look in, except on class days, and I am restless in anticipation of our long awaited impending move to Nar Cottage. Butterflies seem few and far between this season in Norfolk, suffering after such a long hard winter of lying snow, but the dragonflies and damselflies seem to be doing well, this is a mating female large red damselfly with f. intermedia markings I spotted on one of my favourite walks.
In between the summer storms we’ve been having I made a quick dash over the the Norfolk Broads in my first attempt to see a swallowtail butterfly. I had no joy but did see my first broad-bodied chaser dragonfly which was busy egg laying in a pool.
Its late summer and already the weather is feeling very autumnal. I recently visited one of my favourite secluded dragonfly haunts and found the southern hawkers and common darters still zooming about and dancing over the water.
Hawker dragonflies are a fearless and highly competitive dragonfly species. They spend most of their time in flight hunting out smaller insects as prey. They are also highly competitive. It’s beautiful to watch them do acrobatic battles with other dragonflies above the water, quite often there are conflicts between several dragonflies at once, reminiscent of a battle of Britain dogfight.
Like most predators. hawker dragonflies are very curious by nature and quite often one would come right up to hover in front of me for a few seconds before “buzzing” me and zooming off again. This shot was quite a challenge – it was taken handheld using manual focusing on my 180mm macro lens.