I decided to take a trip to the coast today. Rimac nature reserve in Lincolnshire was today's destination. Rimac is part of the Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes NNR The habitat here is mainly tidal sand and mudflats, salt and freshwater marshes and sand dunes.
I left home at 07:30 to make the fifty minute journey to Rimac. It was a nice morning when I left home with plenty of sunshine. The nearer I got to my destination the duller it got and by the time I arrived at Rimac the sun had disappeared behind the clouds. It wasn't cold though so I had high hopes for a decent day. I knew that Rimac was a good spot for Ruddy Darter and Emperor dragonfly and these two were my target species for today.
Although as said the sun had disappeared the forecast was for sunny spells up to lunch time with possibly heavy thundery showers in the afternoon. I decided to hand hold the Canon 100mm lens today as the uneven terrain would make using a tripod difficult and it did look a little brighter as I set up my gear. Entering the reserve I soon came across some dragonflies. I was a little surprised however to find that the first dragonfly I came across was a Black Darter. I had no idea Black Darter were present on this reserve. Common Darter and Ruddy Darter were also seen although numbers were small, no doubt due to the overcast conditions and the fairly stiff breeze that was blowing.
I walked around the reserve to the first pond area where I have seen Emperor Dragonflies in previous years. There were a couple of very tatty Four-spotted Chaser dragonflies around the pond and several Common and Ruddy darter's but no Emperor to be seen. It was still dull though so I didn't really expect to see much. As I continued around the reserve I saw a couple of male Emerald damselflies and quite a lot of butterflies, Gatekeeper being the most numerous.
About an hour later the sun made an appearance so I made my way back to the pond area hoping the sun would maybe encourage an Emperor to show. I was right, not one but two female Emperors were flying round the pond looking for a suitable spot for egg laying, or to use the correct term oviposit. Although this pond is not particularly large both the emperor's were sticking to the far side of it and not coming within range of my lens.
If I got any photographs they would have to be in flight shots or hovering shots of the egg laying. When a suitable spot is found the female hovers over the water dipping the tip of her abdomen into the water to deposit the eggs. It wasn't feasible to get round the other side of the pond and if it had been I would have been shooting into the sun which isn't good. Despite watching these female's flying back and forth and ovipositing for nearly an hour they never came remotely in range of the camera. Even if I had chosen the Sigma 150mm lens they would still have been out of range. Sometimes it's just not possible to get the shot you want although it was very frustrating seeing and not being able to photograph this I just had to console myself with the fact that I had actually witnessed this, something many people will never have seen.
The sun disappeared behind the clouds and the emperor's disappeared as well so I went to see if I could find some Ruddy darter's to photograph. It was no problem finding some but it was a bigger problem photographing them as the sun had come out again and they were very flighty. Perseverance paid in the end though and I did get some shots I was happy with.
Male Ruddy Darter
I had been that engrossed with trying to photograph these little devils that I hadn't really noticed a storm was brewing until the sun actually disappeared again. I quickly made my way back to the car as the storm closed in and oh, what a storm it was. I only just made it back to the car when an almighty crack of thunder shook the car and the heavens opened. It's many a year since I have seen a storm with the ferocity of this one. The rain was intense as was the thunder and lightening and I was most grateful for the safety of the car. As the storm continued I ate my lunch and reviewed the photographs on the camera LCD, deleting the obviously out of focus ones. Forty five minutes passed before the storm cleared and it stopped raining.
The sun made a few half hearted attempts at shining again but it never really looked like making it and I decided to call it a day. Although I had no photographs of Emperor dragonfly I had at least seen and witnessed the ovipositing and enjoyed my day without getting wet. Lol. I finish this post with a photograph of a Common Darter.