Mating Dragonflies

This past weekend (before the mid-week washout) we had some excellent weather which saw a number of Dragonfly and Damselfly species taking to the air around the local ponds. Big and small were in abundance and not only that I was lucky enough to come across a few of the smaller species mating, namely the Common Darter Dragonflies and Emerald Damselflies.

Macro Shot of a Female Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

The Common Darter in the picture above is easily recognised by the cream or yellow stripe running down the length of the legs and the black band across the head just in front of the eyes. The predominant colour is red but there are other species that are very similar. One such species that can quite easily be mistaken for a Common Darter is the Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) but the difference can be distinguished via the legs being entirely black.
The picture above is of a female denoted by the light yellow thorax and abdomen.

Immature Male Common Darter

A fully matured adult male has a deeper red coloured abdomen than the Immature male seen in the picture above which has a more orangey coloured abdomen.

The following set of images are of a couple of Common Darters mating. I was extremely lucky to come across two such pairs and get within a foot of one pair with a combo of  Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 DI Macro Lens and 12mm Kenko Extension Tube.

Click on the image to view Large.

 Mating Common Darters

Another curiosity I came across was the Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis), the picture below is of the Brown Hawker Ovipositing. Ovispositing is what dragonflies do when depositing eggs by way of an ovipositor. This particular one was laying eggs on a piece of rotting wood in still water.
BUT that was'nt the curiosity....

Female Brown Hawker Oviposting

The curious thing was a Brown Hawkers cannabalistic actions. I saw one snatch a smaller Common Darter out of the air, go to ground amongst the thick grasses and proceed to take its head off and start eating it!
Until this point I was unaware of their cannabalistic compulsions.

If you take a close look at the following image you can see the Common Darters abdomen hanging out of the Brown Hawkers mouth.

Male Brown Hawker nibbling on a Common Darter

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)

I was extremely lucky to capture this beautifully coloured Southern Hawker (Aeshan cyanea) also known as the Blue Darner the other day. It's extremely difficult to snap the Hawker's in flight because they are so skittish but this particular one took a liking to me or rather curiosity got the better of it. This species is known to approach people though due to its inquisitive nature. As it was hawking for food and doing its rounds it would come right up to me hover for a few seconds and skit off before coming back round for another go. Even though it gave me a chance of snapping him it still took many shots before I managed to get a couple of useable ones.

Airborne Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea)

Morphology of a Dragonfly (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Below is a list of books for all those eager or interested enough in learning about Dragonfly and Damselfly taxonomy, identification of species and much more, just click on the links for reviews of each particular book and current pricing at Amazon.

Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain and Ireland

A Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain Europe & North Africa
Dragonflies through Binoculars: A Field Guide to Dragonflies of North America (Butterflies and Others Through Binoculars Field Guide Series)
Dragonflies of the World

A Pocket Guide: Dragonflies of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore

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