Two weeks since I visited my local patch so a visit was well overdue. It was a lovely morning with good sunny spells and temperatures set to reach 19/20 degrees c. I'm pleased to say the weather forecaster's got it right for a change and it was every bit as good as they said it would be.
Not much of decision as to which macro lens to use today in the nice bright conditions. The Canon 100mm hand held was the obvious choice. I arrived at Messingham at 08:00 and was soon set up and ready to go. The first meadow gave me my first photo opportunity of a female Migrant hawker. I spotted her perched up nearly straight away and although she wasn't in an ideal position for a photograph you have to take what chances come your way. As it happened it turned out pretty decent.
Female Migrant hawker
I continued around the reserve seeing many dragonflies in the warm bright conditions. Ruddy darter's were present in good numbers, more than I have seen in quite a few years at Messingham. The damselflies are starting to diminish rapidly. There were decent numbers of Common Blue and a few Blue-tailed damsels but in much fewer numbers as the season for them draws to a close. About half an hour after arriving at Messingham a phone call was received from a good friend Mark, asking where I was on the reserve as he had just arrived. Mark had recognised my car in the car park. Mark soon caught up with me and we spent the rest of the day together. Four eyes are often better than two when it comes to spotting insects and apart from that Mark is always good company.
We did think that in the warmish conditions the lizards might be showing well but they weren't. The only ones we saw were some very small juveniles. There were a few Migrant hawker's around but not as many as I would have expected for the conditions. I managed a photo of a male Migrant hawker but the background was a bit cluttered. A male Southern hawker was very obliging. He perched up for a long time but the lighting where he was perched was difficult to say the least. I got around this by using spot metering. It's not a metering mode I use that often and to be honest I do tend to forget about spot metering. Thanks to Mark for suggesting and reminding me about spot metering. I normally use centre weighted average metering. However the spot metering worked a treat with this one. For those not familiar with metering modes on the camera, spot does as it says on the tin if you like and metres for a very small area in the centre of the scene through the view finder of the camera.. This works well when the subject such as the Southern hawker we were photographing has fairly bright markings and the background is darkish or very light as it was with this one. So sooner than expose for the whole scene spot exposes for a much smaller area in the centre of the scene where you obviously place the subject.
Male Southern hawker
As said, Common and Ruddy darters were present in good numbers but boy were they flighty. I never usually have any problems getting photographs of Common darter but they were exceptionally skittish today and it was nearly lunch time before I got any that I was happy with. Typically when I finally did get one there were many more that decided to pose for me as well. The Ruddy darter's however did beat me today and I didn't get one decent photograph of them and I can assure you it wasn't for the lack of trying.
Mark and myself did several circuits of the reserve today. I think when you are with someone else rather than on your own you tend to cover a little more ground. Brimstone and Peacock butterflies were the most common today. Small Copper butterflies were also seen as were a few very rough looking Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper. The brimstone's love feeding on Purple Loosestrife and the Devil's bit Scabious plants. but for a change as I always seem to post photographs of brimstone's on purple flowers here is one on a yellow flower. Not quite sure of the flower name though.
One of the last photographs of the day was of a Robber fly. Mark spotted it as we were making our way back to the car park. It was one of the most obliging Robber flies I have encountered allowing us great photo opportunities.
Seven hours spent on this cracking reserve in great company today. I've said it before and no doubt will say it again, Messingham really is a top spot for insect photography.