Once again a very poor start to the day weather wise. Dull with rain threatening and very windy. I resigned myself to the fact that I would not go out today, instead I would catch up with a few jobs at home. By eleven thirty the skies had brightened and it was quite warm. The wind however if anything had strengthened and I knew getting macro shots in this wind would be difficult unless I could find a very sheltered spot. I decided the heather meadow at my local patch Messingham nature reserve would probably be my best bet at getting any photographs today.
I arrived at Messingham about twelve fifteen. As said it was quite warm but very windy. The choice of lens today was obviously going to be the Sigma 150mm on the tripod. The first insect I encountered was a Common Blue butterfly in the first meadow. The wind was blowing very strongly across the meadow and this little butterfly was really struggling to keep on track. I watched it for a while and actually saw it land in the grass but the wind was waving it about wildly giving no chance of any photograph at all.
A Brown Hawker dragonfly was also seen in the meadow and a Red-eyed damselfly along with good numbers of Common Blue and Blue-tailed damselflies. I carried on at a very steady pace hoping I might spot a Southern Hawker dragonfly or something else perched up. Didn't see anything only the Common and Blue-tailed damselflies until I reached the small pond at the back end of the heather meadow. In this area a Brown Hawker was patrolling it's patch. Several times it landed and each time I approached it off it went eventually to land where I could not access it, well not without getting wet anyway Lol.
I continued into the heather meadow where it was relatively sheltered from the gusty wind. Here my first real photo opportunity came. A four-spotted Chaser dragonfly perched in a decent position. This one was in pretty good condition compared to some I have seen recently. Some of them are beginning to look very tired as they come to the end of their short lives.
I also a couple of Large Skipper and several Meadow Brown and Ringlet butterflies. Another Red-eyed damselfly was also seen, a Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly and a Brown Hawker dragonfly were also seen. Even in the shelter of the meadow the wind was quite blustery at times and I had too keep to one end of the meadow in the most sheltered spots. There were also a few Grasshoppers and Robber flies. I did manage a decent photograph of a Grasshopper. Always difficult to photograph these little insects. There always seems to be a grass stem or some over vegetation blocking the way to a clear shot. The background can often be quite messy as well unless you are fortunate enough to find one on a single grass stem where you can isolate it from the background. Many times just as you are about to press the shutter button the little devils give an almighty jump never to be seen again.
The sun had now been replaced by dark storm clouds and there was a few spots of rain in the air. I decided to hurry on to the duck hide before it got any worse. Wise move because just as I approached the duck hide the heavens opened. I took shelter in the hide and after around fifteen minutes it passed over and the sun came out again. Although it was now warm and bright the long grass was very much on the wet side making it rather unpleasant to walk about in. I searched the small meadow area in front of the duck hide for Common Blue or Brown Argus butterflies but none today.
The wind had now dropped considerably so I made my way back to the heather meadow in the hope of getting photographs of the Robber flies and the dragonflies. My luck was in and I spotted a Robber fly that had captured a damselfly. Robber flies sit in wait for their prey and then dart up from their chosen perch and catch the unfortunate insect mid flight. They then squeeze the insect in their strong legs to immobilise it before inserting a proboscis into the insect. They then literally suck the insect dry just leaving an outer casing.
Robber fly with damselfly prey.
As I wandered round the meadow I encountered several more Robber flies and was very fortunate to see one actually catch a Common Blue damselfly The Robber fly was sat on a heather stem and I was about to set up to photograph it when it darted off and caught the damselfly mid flight. It then landed on a leaf where I watched the damselfly put up a brief struggle before the Robber fly completely immobilised it. Something I have never witnessed before and I consider myself privileged to have seen this happen. A very unfortunate end for the damselfly but that is nature. Robber flies have to eat just the same as any other insect.
Robber fly with Common Blue damselfly prey
I took many photographs of the Robber and damselfly as the Robber fly was not in the least concerned by my presence, being much more interested in it's meal than me. The clouds had once again returned and it was 15:30 so I made my way back to the car. Another great few hours on my local patch. The conditions had been much less than ideal but the end result was very satisfactory as far as I was concerned.