Messinghan nature reserve, North Lincolnshire. Monday 9th July 2012

July 10, 2012  •  2 Comments

Yet another poor forecast for today but if I wait for a decent day I would probably not get out at all. So, I decided on a trip to the local patch Messingham nature reserve. I arrived at Messingham at 08:45 and wasn't surprised to discover that I was the only person there. No one else would be daft enough to want to walk around in this weather Lol. There were odd glimpses of sun but overall it was very overcast and gloomy. The good thing was there was no wind.

I decided to use the Canon 100mm lens this time, but on a tripod rather than hand hold it. There is no tripod collar on the 100mm so I have to fit the quick release tripod plate directly on to the camera which isn't ideal but it does work. I'm sure there is a tripod collar available for the 100mm so I must get around to buying one. Also have to remember to switch the IS on the lens off when using it on the tripod. If it brightened up enough I could always hand hold the 100mm although it is rather cumbersome to hand hold with the flash and diffuser attached.

I didn't expect to see a lot with the overcast conditions but if anything it worked in my favour today. Within a few minutes of entering the first meadow I spotted a Brown Hawker dragonfly perched up in a reasonably decent position. My first thought was damn I wish I had put the 150mm lens on as I was pretty sure the Hawker would take flight before I got near enough for a shot with the 100mm lens. How wrong could I have been. This guy let me approach as close as I wanted. I took a few shots at distance to begin with before moving in closer. This one was that obliging that he even let me remove a grass stem that was partially over his body and spoiling the shot. He wasn't eating anything he was just sat there. It was that cool that he wasn't warm enough to fly. As I continued to take photographs he started vibrating his wings rapidly, a sure sign that he was about to take flight. I guess the very fast wing vibrating warms them up. A few moments later he took flight.

Male Brown Hawker

Brown Hawker daragonfly Brown Hawker male - Aeshna grandis What a great start to today's visit. There were a few grasshoppers and the usual Common and Blue-tailed damselflies and also Meadow Brown and Ringlet butterflies but none that were posing. I was a bit surprised at this as I thought the cool conditions would have slowed them down somewhat. It hadn't slowed the Mosquito's down and it wasn't long before one had drawn blood on my hand. They are so light footed you don't realise they are on you until the little beggars have done the damage. Some people seem less prone to Mosquito bites than others. Unfortunately they seem to like me and I knew come evening time I would have a few itchy red bumps in various places. 

I continued my walk at a very slow pace encouraged by my first find. Just after leaving the meadow I spotted another Brown Hawker perched up. This one was in an even better photographic position, a female this time. This one also allowed me good photographic opportunities. It was a fairly freshly emerged insect and as with the first one I guess it was too cold for it to take flight.

Female Brown Hawker

Female Brown HawkerBrown Hawker female - Aeshna grandis Two Brown Hawkers that were obliging in the one visit was more than I would ever have hoped for. Making my way along the path between the lake and the wood I was hoping to find the Emerald damselflies that I saw on my last visit to Messingham. I didn't have to look far. I have never seen so many Emerald damselflies at Messingham. It must be a very good year for them. I think the Emerald is the most attractive of all the damselflies. Although it was still overcast it had warmed up a little and the Emeralds were very flighty and great patience was required to get some decent photographs. These seemed to be mostly females with just one teneral male in this area and I was hoping to find some more mature males to photograph.

Female Emerald damselfly

Female Emerald Damselfly Emerald Damselfly female - Lestes sponsa As I neared the small pond behind the heather meadow I saw a Common darter dragonfly. A first for the season for me. I approached it very slowly but it took flight. I watched it land in an inaccessible area. Although I stood and waited for a good fifteen minutes it never came my way any more. Oh well at least I had seen it, you can't win them all. It was quiet in the heather meadow, I did see a few grasshoppers, one Robber fly and the usual damselflies but no dragonflies. There were a few butterflies and I managed a lovely shot of a Meadow Brown perched on a Ragwort flower.

Meadow Brown butterfly

Meadow Brown butterfly Meadow Brown - Maniola jurtina I continued out of the heather meadow along the path between the two lakes. Here I found another Brown Hawker perched on a dead reed stem. What a day for Brown Hawkers. This male like the previous two was most obliging and allowed me ample photographic opportunities. I haven't posted a photograph of this one here, there are plenty to see on the main web site.

I carried on to the small meadow area in front of the duck hide. Here I found a few more Emerald damselflies. Just like the ones seen earlier they were very flighty and although the lighting conditions weren't great I ditched the tripod on a nearby bench and decided to try for some hand held shots as it was proving very difficult to get set up on any of them before they took flight. I managed a few shots of a male but when reviewed on the camera screen motion blur was evident in the shots due to the slow shutter speeds. I pushed the ISO on the camera up to ISO 800 and tried again. This time I managed a few that were sharp. I don't like using ISO 800 but a slightly noisy shot is better than a blurred shot. As I was searching the meadow I also saw a Comma butterfly. Haven't seen a Comma for quite a while, no shots though as it soon took flight.

Male Emerald damselfly

Male Emerald damselflyEmerald Damselfly male - Lestes sponsa It was 11:45 and my stomach was telling me it was time for something to eat. I was about to sit on the bench in this area when I felt a few spots of rain. Not wanting to get caught out like I did on my last visit I decided to make my way back to the car. I did get back to the car before the really heavy rain came on but did get slightly damp. I sat in the car and ate my food and had a drink thinking it would soon clear. It didn't and after an hour I decided to make my way home.

Although I would have liked better light to get the shutter speeds up, the cool and overcast conditions had certainly worked in my favour as far as the Brown Hawkers were concerned at least. I can't ever remember being able to photograph three different Brown Hawkers in one visit to Messingham. As I predicted come evening time those bloody Mosquito bites were itching with no less than seven different bites mainly on my hands but with one on my arm that must have managed to either get up my sleeve or bite me through my shirt. Lol.


Lincsbirder wildlife photography
Many thanks John for taking the time to comment, much appreciated
John McFall(non-registered)
A great blog Roger and one I think you will remember if not for the super Hawker photographs you will for the bites, :-)) great read and fantastic photographs again TY
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