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
I went Dragon Hunting at Thursley Common NNR last week. Both for the reptilian and invertebrate varieties! Plenty of both, but this common or viviparous lizard was a real poser! Perched on the edge of the boardwalk, shaded by heathers, he let me get right on a level with him to capture a number of images. I’m processing quite a few images of the different individuals seen, to eventually show some of the amazing variation in colour and pattern in this species. Until then, enjoy a little collection of the winged dragons I saw that day too!
I have many many wonderful wildlife moments this last week while taking part in 30DaysWild, but taking my parent along to Thursley Common NNR was a real highlight! My dad is recovering from a hip replacement that has been long overdue. His mobility is still a bit restricted but he is finally able to walk far enough to get out onto the boardwalk at Thursley to see the birds, lizards, orchids and dragonflies. I can just about manage my electric wheelchair onto the site with a bit of help, this time provided by my mum and my aunt, who got me past a few missing boards and over some awkward roots.
We could only stay a short time and I was so thrilled to find the treecreepers once again nesting in the spot they occupied last year! Absolutely wonderful to watch them. The marsh orchids are really starting to carpet the bog in patchworks of purple, broken up by fabulous grasses, including native cotton grass. Such a delight to look upon! Damselflies and dragonflies are starting to increase in numbers, bringing the hobbies in to hunt over the ponds. I found many lovely lizards, one was even kind enough to stay put while my dad came in closer to get a photo with his phone!
A visit to Thursley Common NNR yesterday brought a wealth of wildlife treats! One of my favourite inhabitants of the common are the common lizards. They bask on the boardwalk in the sunshine and some are quite bold. This lizard was about 10cm long and had truly beautiful colours and patterns! I was able to get a close up of him using my 100-400mm lens so that I could keep a reasonable distance and take the image from a low angle.
I love getting outside, exploring the landscape and discovering wildlife for many different reasons! Mostly it’s because it makes me happy 🙂 I think most of us could use a bit more happiness in our lives, so get outside and look for something brighter too! This is the Dartford Warbler that sang so beautifully for me at Thursley Common NNR last Thursday.
I had a fantastic meet-up with Natural England National Nature Reserve managers, Leo and James, last week at Thursley Common NNR in Surrey. I think coming around with me in my wheelchair was a bit of a revelation to them both, as they discovered how so many little things that you just wouldn’t notice on a ramble, can become the most frustrating obstacles when you’re on wheels or have reduced mobility. We have made some good plans to improve access on the main way-marked paths, increase signs, add disabled parking, add Braille and embossed symbols to signposts, create more passing areas on the boardwalks, firm up the bridleway surface at crossing points, investigate installing more seats and rest points, addition of more railings on certain parts of the boardwalk and getting regular visitors to report any obstacles or loose boards directly to the ranger. Phew!! That’s a lot of work. Some of it should be reasonably easy to get done but with only a few rangers and a big reliance on volunteer workparties, many of our plans could take some time to achieve.
I’ve got my own set of tasks to be getting on with! Plenty of research to start with. One big goal is to actually create a PDF downloadable map. I think that would help all visitors to Thursley, not just those of us with disabilities. After all, getting totally lost is actually pretty disabling for anyone! So, I’m looking forward to meeting with Leo and James again, as well as with others who could help us in this project and I absolutely can’t wait to visit Thursley again! For now it will have to be with some assistance but there is a clear path ahead of us. Earlier today, BBC Springwatch retweeted a quick-edit photo I had taken of a tiny common lizard spotted on the Boardwalk at Thursley so I shall lead this post with a full edit of a larger, adult lizard spotted on the very same Boardwalk. This one’s for ShareMondays2018 and the Wex Mondays challenges. A gallery of more seen from the boardwalk is below: