Photographing dragonflies

30DaysWild no 15: this Golden Ringed Dragonfly, resting in the turbine field at Wheatland Farm, let us get close enough to take pictures with a mobile phone.

OK, you do have to have time to fritter (but if your on holiday here in Devon…), and we were lucky… the adult was hunting over the rushes and grassland in the turbine field (Lower Newland Moor) when we saw it drop to rest. Creeping up was relatively easy, and it let us get good and close. Apparently that’s fairly normal though. Sometimes you can hear them munching through a prey item they’ve just caught.

Here at Wheatland Farm we see a few of these golden ringed dragonflies each year, but not in huge numbers, nor so reliably as the ones you see around the pond. Like many of the dragonfly species, they turn up from June ( June 16th in 2020). Their other English name is Common Goldenring, for fairly obvious reasons.

They are not really a pond species – you’re more likely to see them hunting the woodland edges of the eco lodge field or perhaps down by the stream that borders Popehouse Moor Site of Special Scientific Interest. And golden ringed dragonflies generally need streams running through fairly acidic soils for the larval stages. The females have an ovipositor, that they stab into the bottom of the streambed, where they lay eggs. Remarkably, the larvae can take up to 5 years to develop into adults. Imagine that. What a change it must be to crawl out of a stream after five years and transform into an aerial hunter. Amazing!

Previously on #30DaysWild

This time last year: Ian was recording one of his favourite local runs near Wheatland Farm’s lodges.

This time in 2019:  We were listing all the flies found at Wheatland Farm in a survey. Not to everyone’s taste perhaps, but fascinating all the same. We’re not talking house flies here. We mean all flies including insects that are far more interesting and welcome.

This time in 2018: we were admiring hover flies amongst the ox eye daisies. Yup. More flies. But these ones look almost like bees.

This time in 2017: We were watching the butterflies, especially a male large skipper perched on a prominent flower. In 2021 large skippers have only just emerged.