Saturday, 3 September 2011

LET'S.... PLAY.... DARTERS....

Today we have had heavy persistant rain for hours and I have discovered that my waterproof overtrousers are not as waterproof as advertised.

The cloud has been thick and low, lower, in fact, than a snakes belly in a wagon rut. Even if I had wanted to test the camera's weatherproof claims (I didn't after my damp experience with the trousers) there just wasn't enough light for any useful wildlife photography.

This is in stark contrast to yesterday when we basked in the warm late summer sun and surveyed meadows buzzing with insect life. Today the same meadows are sagging under the wieght of a million raindrops, muffled by water.

But I and my good buddy Johnny Ball managed to get a bag full of shots of one of the more inspiring bugs we came across around the ponds....
The ponds are sheltered from the breeze that is animating the long grases of the adjacent meadows and we soon come across a Common Darter sat on a poolside willow.
I am mad keen on dragonflies and damselflies, almost as keen on them as I am about the waders of the Dee. It is such a shame that for another summer we have had poor weather resulting in poor numbers. So we decide to make the most of this photo opportunity, and it is a good thing we did given the deluges of today. We sit and wait so we can establish it's territory and regular perches. The sun intense on our backs.
Once the insects routine is established we move in for the photos....
These insects are so often overlooked and unnecessarily feared. They are not going to bite or sting you and they don't carry disease. They have beautiful markings and amazing features too. Diamonds by our ponds. We fill our memory cards with images of this adult male.
Satisfied that we have recorded him in all his glory we move on. We head round to a different pond where a male usually holds a territory. We arrive on his patch and quickly locate him. He is sat on a not too photogenic part of the fence, which is not what we want, but he is displaying some interesting dragonfly behaviour. Sky-pointing or the obelisk position.
To avoid overheating when the sun is strong, as it was yesterday, they point the tip of their abdomen towards the sun, thus presenting the smallest surface area of their body possible to the burning star. this stops too much heat being absorbed by their bodies. Simple, clever. I like it. So we record it....
It is happy to sit on it's post and allow us to photograph it, so that is just what we do.
Using the macro lens we get closer....
....and closer.
We get to study this insect, collecting images of it's key characteristics. The pterostigma on the wing...
.... and the genius of evolution that is the compound eye.
Hundreds of individual polygonal lenses making up two massive image receptors, this thing can even see behind it. So I'm sure it got an eyefull of our ugly mugs.
The memories of our encounter serve to illuminate the dull, damp squib that is today.

Summer lingers on....

1 comment: