Monday, 5 August 2013

Blackbirds and Dragonflies

All photos © Mel Melis

We moved house in May, we’ve got an old converted barn on the edge of the old moor. Beyond our hedge, a river runs behind the overgrown field. We’re very lucky. Summer took its time to arrive, but now it has we’ve had some amazingly beautiful days. We get the full glory of the setting sun from our back porch, the rays scattered by patchy cloud.

Somewhere in the river Kingfishers’ and Otters’ fish. I haven’t seen either yet, but I’m hopeful. I’m impressed with the birdlife in the garden though. Jays, finches of all sorts, swifts, tits and mammals too, most notably moles unfortunately causing mini subsidence patches where you tread and inadvertently collapse their tunnels. As well as that, in the dusk, bats, super manoeuvrable and quick, not much bigger than a bumblebee, chasing and catching moths in flight. Our most regular visitor though, is this bizarrely tailless and bold blackbird. We think she’s young. Skips right up to you.

Here she is gathering bugs from the lawn. I just happened to be lying down in the grass with my camera at the time. She posed several times.

Isn’t she pretty? Is she a blackbird?

And less than 100 yards away is a pond. On the day when it was over 30 degrees, I finished work about six and wandered down, dangled my legs over the wooden platform which overlooks the pond and watched the dragonflies duelling and mating. The pond was green with algae, partially evaporated in the heat, needing a top up in the dry spell. A pea soup.

The dragonfly behaviour was interesting. Some would position themselves on twigs or reeds and charge out to combat any intruders. Their flight seems to defy gravity, deftly forward, back and from side to side, occasional hovering, then with a speed that almost looks like a dematerialisation and teleport they appear hovering in another spot a split second later.

Needless to say I didn’t get any photos of them in flight, just when they stood sentry.

Not sure what species these are, there are several UK varieties. These were big (perhaps 3 inches long) but there were bigger blue / purple ones, who actually crackled when they accelerated, the power in their wing beat audible over the torpid silence of the murky green. Those big ones didn’t settle, they kept patrolling and harassing.

One thing I did notice is that this species mated in flight, after disengaging, the female (I assume) would then dip her abdomen into the water at various points, whilst still flying of course. Having researched it, she was actually laying her fertilised eggs. Should the larva hatch and survive, they’d turn into quite the pond predator. The larva can live for a few years under water, when they emerge, the dragonflies only live for a couple of months, their purpose seemingly to mate, lay their eggs and die.

Finally a picture of a bright little damselfly. The intensity of the blue is beautiful.


cpink said...

Mel, I loved it.

Yasminselena said...

I love your close ups of the dragonfly, this morning I tried to take a close up of a baby snail on my patio window, using the close up function of my camera, all I got was a drunken blur :(