Sunday, August 05, 2007

Dragonfly Fest!!!

Today was something of a real red-letter day for Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies) in Norfolk, and it happened in our little Parish! First thing this morning I decided to walk over to Felbrigg Lake, mainly to try and connect with Spotted Flycatcher, which I did just inside the west gate entrance. When I got to the Lake it was already heaving with Damselflies and Darters and Skimmers, they were all over the place! With one species in mind I walked over to the exposed sandy bank, and sure enough, there was a Red-veined Darter briefly on the deck before flying out over the lake. For the next half hour I counted at least 3 male and one female of this species. It was during this time that a big brown 'hawker' with a turquoise saddle buzzed past me and disappeared over the lake. I knew that Lesser Emperor (a very rare vagrant from southern Europe) had a 'saddle' but I was convinced this was a more purple colour, and that Lesser was altogether a smaller, more dainty dragonfly (this thing was big!) I assumed therefore that it was some type of immature variant of Emperor dragonfly (I only started looking at Drag's towards the end of last summer so am really a bit of a novice!) I had rung Rob Lee to tell him of my Red-veined Darters and left for home. At home I looked up my 'immature' Emperor to find that there isn't one! With that, Rob was on the phone saying he'd just had a Lesser Emperor!! I managed to get back down to the lake, and with news out of a rare dragonfly here, people were starting to turn up. With no sign of it in the area it was expected to be in, I decided to check the other side. Shortly after scanning the algae blankets floating near the overhanging trees I saw it, a brown dragonfly with a blue saddle, but this time it was attached to another, yellower dragonfly, a female! After that, all who were there enjoyed excellent views of I believe the first occurrence of Lesser Emperor dragonflies oviposting (egg laying) in Norfolk, and probably East Anglia!
Breeding Lesser Emperor on Felbrigg Lake

The following odonata were noted on Felbrigg today:

Emperor, LESSER EMPEROR, Red-veined Darter, Common Darter, Banded Demoiselle, Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker, Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad-bodied Chaser, Four-spotted Chaser, Common Blue Damselfly, Red-eyed Damselfly and Small Red-eyed Damselfly.
Red-veined Darter

Small Red-eyed Damselfly
PYL 107 Spotted Flycatcher


Dean ( mostlymacro ) said...

Lesser Emperors & White Admirals, nice one Andy. I`ve yet to see both.
BTW, we`re are having a weekend in Norfolk at the end of Sept, but i can`t remember exactly where. At a woodland caravan site, i think.

Andy Brazil said...

Wow! The first breeding lesser emperor in Norfolk. And rvd! guess where i'll be going later today?

Incidently I saw you went looking for grizzled and dingy skippers at narborough - you'e too late for grizzled, they only have the one brood in may, but there's a faint possibility of a second brood of dingy being out at the moment. nice record of white-letter though.

Greg Bond said...

Thanks for putting the news out, Andy, Lesser Emp was a UK tick, never mind a pair!
There were apparently 5 in Cambs the same day, including egg laying, but they were kept quiet it seems apart from publishing photos - in case of egg collectors??

Steve said...

What fantastic sightings and some great pictures too. You may be interested in my blog


DC said...

You photos are great! Would you mind sharing what kind of camera you use?

Andy said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. Cheers Steve, I've actually seen your blog and it is really interesting, especially all the inverts you get to see. Deborah I use two Fuji camera's mostly. For the insects and close up macro stuff I use a Finepix 7000 which macros down to 1cm! For the other stuff I use a digi scoping set up which is a Finepix F30 connected to a Zeiss 80mm zoom spotting scope. The older pics were mostly with my other camera a Contax U4R which I still occationally use.

Sparroweye said...

Here is a link to my very first dragonfly photograph. I am so proud.
I have been attempting a clear one ever since I got my Panasonic fz20
but they are so allusive. I have no idea what kind it is.