Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Close Up Shots Of Dragonflies Hatching & Some New Moths Appear

I don't think the wildlife pond we put in here last year could be performing any better if it tried. As well as the Newt, we've had dragonflies hatching out (or emerging from their nymphs). There were three that I saw, all Broad Bodied Chasers (I saw an adult male round the pond last year). One had obviously hatched out earlier and flew off as I came up to the pond. One hatched out on my hand (I thought he'd got stuck but then realised that the hanging backwards in the first pic is a natural part of the emergence and they can remain like that for half an hour letting everything dry and solidify. Fortunately, it didn't cause him any problems to hatch out on my hand and he flew off fine after the three to four hours they take to dry off and strengthen after emerging- having spent that time on a leaf, not on me!).  The third one had a problem with his wings which you'll see further down the photos.

I was able to get the whole process on camera so will let the pictures do the talking....

Hatching out of the nymph case or exuvia. Dragonfly nymphs spend their first year in water, then, when ready to emerge, the nymph climbs up out of the water, up to a metre away from the pond into vegetation where the adult dragonfly emerges

Empty exuvia holding on to the grass blade, and brand new dragon on my finger!

These are the wings, the pointy thin things on his back

Empty nymph case

Empty nymph case

Wings starting to fill out

And a bit more....
Wings now transparent
Hey Presto! Both sets of wings open and fully functioning, and having attempted his first flight...
For his second flight he landed on me!

So the second Dragon was off on his own and doing well. The third one seemed to be doing all the right things, but once his wings became transparent it became apparent that he couldn't open the first pair.

It's always hard to know when to intervene and when to leave well alone. On the whole I feel that mother nature generally knows best and it's wise to let things be; nature has a way of working out things and you can do damage by rushing in too eagerly to help. So, we left the third dragon holding onto some grasses by the pond and got on with our day, hoping that with time the wings would unstick. BUT, when I went back to check him a few hours later towards the end of the afternoon, he was still there with the wings stuck in the same position, and I realised that without help he wouldn't make it through the night, or indeed ever be able to fly.

So, VERY carefully I picked him up and used a thin blade of grass to explore what was going on with his wings. One set worked fine and were open, but the first pair were glued together, as you can see in the following pics. By sliding the grass very carefully between the wings I could see they were only stuck together in one place, and with some very careful and gentle work with the grass blade, I was eventually able to free them....

Top wings stuck together

And from a head-on angle

Lower wings open, top wings shut fast. Did you notice pops fast asleep in the background...?

Hey Presto! Two pairs of open and working wings!

Who's a proper dragonfly now then?

Maiden Flight Success- straight into the grasses near where he hatched out

And then back to me again!
All was well, he flew off into the flowers and I didn't see him after that so I'm assuming lift off was permanent.

Dragonflies live in their adult state only for a couple of months so the majority of their life is passed as a nymph under water. All Broad-Bodied chasers look this golden colour when new. The males then turn powder blue as they mature and the females retain their golden sheen, so these are probably a mix of boys and girls. I'm just thrilled because it means the pond is really working and supporting all kinds of aquatic life.

There were also loads of Large Red and Azure damsels hatching out that day. By comparison, they only live for a fortnight, so their time is short and sweet and most of it seems to be spent mating and egg-laying....

Things have been busy on the Moth Front too with a goodly haul this morning (despite Mr Robin's best attempts to divest the surrounding area of small flying sleepy people and also the fact that it rained in the night). There were a few new ones....

Birch Mocha

Shoulder-Striped Wainscot
And some Old Familiars...(I'm repeating these to give you lots of practice for the Next Quiz....)....

Our Old Friend, The Buff-Tip

BT head on

Delicately Pretty Clouded Border

Foxglove Pug

Light Brocade

Light Emerald

Ubiquitous at the moment- the Orange Footman

Scorched wing with trademark sticky-up-tail

Small Magpie

The Beautiful White Ermine
And then there is this....My Mystery Moth. I'm thinking perhaps Small Clouded Brindle or some kind of Brocade, but if anyone knows please yell loudly....! He's not very big if that helps :-)

I'll leave you with another Source Of Excitement for me over the weekend....

Cercopsis vulnerata, who is an unusally marked Froghopper. Their discovery caused Some Dancing, much to M's amusement :-)
And finally, an ahhh moment in the shape of two baby Blue tits demanding to be fed this morning, despite the fact that they are the same size as their parent and perfectly capable of feeding themselves....

Feed Me! No, Feed Me! No, Me!

Hope all are well?

CT :-)


  1. Dammit woman I'm jealous again! I was not about your Brown Argus as I saw my first one last year but I really want to see damsels and dragons eclosing! The problem with my pond is that it is too big and I would love a little wildlife pond where I could easily see what was going on, not that I mind having a large pond cos I wouldn't have baby moorhens on a little pond would I? Haha how we want it all. :-)
    I discovered a Small Magpie the other day whilst I was weeding and managed to ID it all by myself. Pretty little things.

    1. I can see this is a game we will be playing all summer...first your firebugs, then my ele hawk, then your skipper, now my dragons.... :-)

      Our wildlife pond is about 1m by 2m and reasonably deep in places, just in case any Great Crested Newts happened to be passing and in the market for a new home.... I'm thrilled at how well it's working. No Moorhens on it, but they venture into the garden from the next door lake anyway. We did have a pair of Mallards on it in Spring- I was torn between enjoying watching them and fretting over them mucking the whole thing up!

  2. I always love your moth photos, but I have to say that these shots of the huge Dragonflies are fantastic :) We sometimes have them hunting in the garden but I've never been able to get close to them like this, thanks!

    1. Hi Fi and thanks for the comment :-)

      Am so pleased you enjoyed the dragon shots- it was an amazing experience and I feel very lucky to have been there at the right time to see it all happening. There is at least one more nymph swimming about in the pond, so hopefully more hatching out to come. Glad you enjoy the moths too, and good luck with getting your close up :-)

  3. Those are lovely pictures of the dragonflies - very interesting for those of us who don't have such access.

    1. I was just really lucky I noticed them I think- they were pretty hidden away in the tall grasses round the pond. Now waiting to see more adults flying about egg-laying :-)

  4. OMG You've done it again and got me all choked up, poor little thing it would have died if you hadn't intervened. I can't keep praising you up can I? yes I can....... lovely post.
    We had broad bodied chasers when we had the allotment, very impressive aren't they. and as for dragon flies, I waited all day for one to hatch only to find out it was the case left behind, shows how much I knew about dragon flies. lol

    1. Glad you are enjoying all the pics and stories. You did make me laugh about waiting for the empty nymph to hatch out! Incredible things- they look so prehistoric and apparently can give a nasty nip when in the water too x

  5. Not only a fantastic tale, but those photographs are stunning. Our nature pond is not performing as well as yours by a long way. I'm rather envious!
    Can't wait for the next garden pond tale!
    Leanne xx

    1. Thanks my dear :-) Probably just luck I was in the right place at the right time (or as my husband would say, I spend far too long just sitting staring at the pond looking for Interesting Things to photograph) :-) xx

  6. Your photos are STUNNING!!!!!!!!!!!! I truly mean it, just amazing. I cannot tell you how amazed and in awe I am of the beauty of the natural world and your ability to capture it on your camera. I am very happy that you helped the dragonfly with the sticky wings problem. It is very hard to know when to intervene isn't it, but I sense that you did the right thing in this case. Now, I must learn, Buff Tip not sticky twiggy job!! xx

    1. Thanks Amy :-) So glad you are enjoying all the pics. It was a very special moment, seeing those dragons so close up like that. I will give you a point for 'sticky twiggy job' if the Buff Tip is in the next quiz!! xx

  7. Good dragonfly rescue. I can even see the smile on his little face!

    1. I thought the same Jess, definitely a grin :-)

  8. Replies
    1. Thanks Dave :-) Hope all's well with you.

  9. Amazing photos and a joy to read, it's great to see them so close up..
    Amanda x

    1. I was so lucky to be able to get the shots. Not sure how many people can say they've had a dragonfly hatch out on them, but it's something I will treasure all my days :-)

  10. Great photos and superb news that dragonflies have colonised your wildlife pond so quickly - well done on the rescue :) As always a great selection of moths :)

    1. I'm so pleased at how well the pond has done in its first year. Tadpoles next year- hopefully....:-)


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x