Dragonflies are usually quite short-lived, maybe only a week. Often an over-mature, older individual will be fading in tone and colour. This is an over-mature female black darter dragonfly found yesterday at Thursley Common NNR. It was resting on the sand, soaking up warmth for energy. Unlike many of the other dragonflies seen yesterday, this individual allowed fellow photographer Paul and I to get up really close with our macro lenses. I believe it stayed put for so long as it’s trying to conserve as much energy as possible in it’s old age. What a privilege though!
I was instantly struck by it’s fragility and faded colours. Black darters are our only truly black species and mature males are very striking, deep black with a few flashes of yellow. They’re also our smallest species of dragonfly! This individual had become parchment-like and translucent. The blacks had faded to blue-grey and brown tones while the eyes had become much lighter in tone and were strikingly beautiful. There really is a haunting beauty in the ageing of many winged insects that strikes a chord with me. It made me think of the Visage song Fade To Grey:
Feel the rain like an English summer Hear the notes from a distant song Stepping out from a back shop poster Wishing life wouldn’t be so long
Almost at the end of a lovely afternoon in the sunshine at Bushy Park and a couple of treecreepers appeared, on birch trees in the Woodland Gardens, near the Pheasantry Cafe. I had to let my tea go cold while I went to try to get some images! They eluded me on many of the trees, circling around and climbing very quickly, until one decided to pause at the base of the tree I was standing right next too. I hardly wanted to breathe, let alone move! It paused long enough to let me get a few close shots from behind. Those markings allow this tiny bird to almost disappear against the tree bark from a further distance!
The City Gardens in the ruins of St Dunstan-in-the-East are a haven for the people of the city in the midst of all the hustle and bustle. This tranquil space with it’s many trees and shrubs is also home to many birds and small mammals. Sitting by the fountain, listening to sound of the wind rustling the leaves, birds singing and feeding in the flower beds, almost hidden under the ferns, you really do feel transported away to another, quieter, time.
My specimen might be a bit tatty around his wings but these male emperor dragonflies are the real spitfires of the insect world, fighting hard and fast over their territory. He almost seems to be saluting me but I know that this behaviour is actually about cleaning and protecting those incredible and complex eyes! This close-up view was captured in the late afternoon last week, when the tired fliers start to roost in the reed beds. I’m putting this into the mix for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge.