Given the right equipment and a co-operative specimen, taking a picture of a perched dragonfly is relatively straightforward. Naturally a few skills need to be employed, such as:
- not making any sudden movements;
- approaching stealthily;
- ensuring that your shadow doesn’t fall across your quarry;
but essentially it is relatively plain-sailing.
Unfortunately, there are several dragonfly species that settle on very infrequently. These are hunters which, rather than lying in wait for a victim on a handy perch, are almost constantly cruising around for a meal (another flying insect). Tracking one of these moving dragonflies is another matter entirely though some give you half a chance by hovering occasionally.
On one of our earlier forays into the marsh, we’d past a pond and spotted a dragonfly with vivid green eyes zooming restlessly back and forth. I suspected it was a Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) – there aren’t that many with vivid green eyes – but attempts to return to the pond for proof seemed doomed to failure for one reason and another. On our second cycling attempt to return, I left Francine at the pond while I returned to camp to retrieve the car. [Ed: Don’t ask!] She used her time very productively and snagged this shot to prove the id of our suspect. She did well – it was not hovering obligingly.
Much more obliging was this magnificent Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) which was patrolling for lunch over a large patch of lily pads on the Sèvre Niortaise. We’d been to the same spot before and not seen him so, as it’s close to the start of their flight season, I suspect it was a recently emerged, pristine specimen. He was obliging in that he hovered a little just as I was ready. He didn’t repeat the exercise so it’s a good job I was ready. If they are newly emerged they don’t waste any time. On the right, admittedly from a day later, is a female Emperor ovipositing. 😉
First, Purple Emperor butterflies and now Emperor Dragonflies – that competes the imperial set.