Friday, 17 August 2012

Chasing the Dragon!

16th Aug.  Sam and I thought an afternoon in the sun might bring us some dragonflies so after stage three and the finishing touches had been made to my deep root filling in the morning, I was already by lunch time to begin the search.  We’d decided upon a visit to Big Waters and Prestwick Carr.

We began at Big Waters where the birding proved to be quiet to say the least.  A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers fed at the feeding station, Willow Warblers called, and on the water Little Grebes and Lesser Black-backed Gulls had plenty of room to themselves.  A Grey Heron was on the island and one or two Cormorants were about the area.  There wasn’t that many odonata about either, despite the sun.  We did find Common Blue and Blue Tailed Damselflies and a good number of Common Darters.  The highlight was a brief sighting of one Southern Hawker near to the hide.  Sam made me green as he described the Golden-ringed Dragonfly he had seen earlier in the week!

The most exciting find was in one of the ponds.  We found what initially looked a very strange species in the water and then realised it was a Damselfly or Dragonfly larva.  It looked very odd and it wasn’t until I got home and looked at the image that I realise it was tucking into some type of water snail.  From the size of the larva Sam and I thought it was a Dragonfly, but I think not as it has caudal lamellae at the tip of the abdomen.  At least that is what I reckon they are.  Finding predator and prey situations like this are not confined to the African Plains!  It certainly appeared to excite one of the local youths who came to look at what we were photographing.  His comment was something along the lines of ‘!!**?*!  *!?? What the !!**?* that?  I’ve never !!**?* seen anything like that before! !!**?* *!??!  Or words to that effect.  I’m sure David Attenborough must have said something similar on finding his first Komodo Dragon.

Well, as the young man said, !!**?** *??!  A joint effort.  Sam took the photo with my gear.:-)  Any I Ds appreciated.
Having had a chat with a friendly photographer in the hide, we left for Prestwick Carr.  Bird wise it was quiet there too, but it was getting hot and we had some hope of finding Dragonflies at Banks Pond.  No such luck, but we were lucky enough to bump into H D who offered us a lift from the bumpy road up to the pond.  We were shown his Red Kite Tail feather found whilst monitoring the birds.  Now I wouldn’t have minded that for my collection.  A nice little area at Banks Pond.  We saw a pair of Bullfinches along the way as well as catching up on some chat.  All we found were Common Blue Damselflies and a few Common Darters.

Back to the bumpy road and we were entertained by numbers of Green Veined White Butterflies and Meadow Brown Butterflies.  A Kestrel gave us a display in hovering close by the road and two or three Common Buzzards were seen in the distance.  We had a chat with a couple of the regulars.

Green Veined White Butterfly
The heat was proving tiring so we didn’t make the sentry box road.  I sat and ate my banana whilst taking in the strong smell of gas before we made off for home.  Not much in the way of birds, but there is always something to see and we had a great afternoon.  Watching nature is addictive, but only ever does you good!!!  Well, unless your really unfortunate I guess!

Plenty of Sun Flies out today

17th Aug.  More Rain!  Spider numbers growing in the garden and seem  not to be phased by the wet conditions.


  1. Hi Brian,
    Hope you are keeping fit. Finally got connected to the internet in rented house yesterday and got a car on Tuesday....HOORAH!!
    That is definately a Odanata nymph but the angle is awkward. A couple of further questions might help. Approximately how long was it and which pond did you find it in. If you had gotten a full side view i could have said straight away whether it was a dragon or damsel. Those anal appendages are usually a giveaway but i cant quite make them out........or if you have any clearer shots of the tail end you could e mail.
    This is how i got into butters and dragons....due to the lack of birds now. NOT THAT THIS SUMMER HAS BROUGHT MANY OF EITHER.

  2. You may well have got that local youth into wildlife, he sounded very enthusiastic, lol! Nice pic of this also.

  3. Hi Brian I think the Larva is Great Diving beetle Dytiscus marginalis.
    I did have a quick view of banded Demsoiselle not at the ponds but over the scrape.

  4. Thanks for the comments guys.
    Glad to hear your getting back to some resemblance of normality John. If these so called 'showers' continue I reckon there will be plenty more people having to face your situation. This is one of the best images that could be got in the circumstances as the sun was shining onto a rather murky pond. I was sure this was an odonata larva (I sould learn not to make assumptions), but it doesn't appear to look like one of the commoner species. I've looked at the Great Diving Beetle that Brian mentions and it does appear to be it! The legs are a give away. Thanks Brian. It's not a species I was even aware of. I should have spent more time looking at pond life. Fascinating. This beetle is certainly quite a predator as are the odonata larva. I looked at some Utube videos of them eating their prey. I'll do some more reading. Your right Mark. Although the lad didn't have quite the correct words to express it, I do think at least he did show his interest.:-) Cheers. Brian.

  5. Yeah re: the lads interest, it has hopefully sown a seed kind of thing.