Photo Blog

I love observing nature and the changing seasons during my Norfolk countryside dog walks accompanied by my ever-faithful canine companion Starrydog. I especially enjoy taking photos of Norfolk butterflies, wildflowers and other flora and fauna that I happen across while exploring local nature reserves. Visit my Norfolk nature photo blog to keep up to date with my photographic adventures and enjoy my butterfly photos.

Two Blues and No Greens

After a second fruitless jaunt hoping to photograph some rather shy Green Hairstreaks, which seem to be having a good season this year, my sunny late May Sunday ended up being an impromptu tale of two Blues in my own back garden instead.

Male Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly basking

As I was resting on my patio I spotted our first blue Broad-bodied chaser dragonfly posing ostentatiously by the side of our (now very low) wildlife pond, barely a day after our first Four-spotted chaser appeared. Both were trying to hold territory and I was entertained by some impressive aerial battles.

A subsequent gentle lap of our garden yielded a female Holly Blue Butterfly busily ovipositing on the native shrubs in our wildlife hedgerow that borders our garden and now in its 5th year is nice and dense. Our wildlife garden just keeps on giving year after year. 

A female Holly Blue butterfly busily ovipositon amongst native hedging

In Search of Autumn...

Our mellow autumnal weather seems to be both treating and playing tricks on us this year.

Mingled gold and green birch leaves

As mid October arrived I started to search for turning leaves and classic signs of Autumn, but in vain. With such mild temperatures, the trees have determinedly held on to their cloaks of green as long as possible to maximise their intake of food.

A Stroll in Blickling Estate at the start of half term week yielded some fallen leaves but the canopy was disappointingly still richly decked in a gown of glorious green, with only the occasional tree starting to offer up a hint of gold at the very top of their crowns.

At last on a visit to Wells-Next-The-Sea at the end of the week, the mood had started to shift and begun to evoke a more autumnal tone. A gorgeously mild day, I watched several Red Admirals dancing brightly in the deceptively warm golden rays of the afternoon sun, but at last, I finally saw my first fully golden-gowned birch tree!

Meanwhile, further along the pathway, a suitably russet-hued Common Darter dragonfly cast a long shadow as it perched on a fallen pine introducing rich red umber tones to the Autumnal palette. 

Phew! - our tardy Lady Autumn really has finally arrived with her gown of gold, just in time for the clocks to go back.

A red Common Darter dragonfly enjoying late October sunshine on a fallen pine tree

A still green canopy at Blickling Estate

A birch tree dressed in full golden regalia

A Spotty New Arrival

The Nar Cottage wildlife garden is starting to become quite mature now, so we were really excited today to spot a new species to the Garden...and a first sighting for me to boot!

Our first ever four-spotted chaser dragonfly (Libellula Quadrimaculata) was perched up by our our wildlife pond, looking glamourous as he posed.

We were even more delighted when he suddenly started zooming round and hooked up with a mate who then started ovipositing, so hopefully in a few years time we may see some more!

Here there be Dragons

Its been a big week for Nar Cottage's wildlife garden as we discovered that our first "home grown" dragonfly had completed its three year lifecycle. This photo is of an emperor dragonfly nymph "exuvia", the exoskeletal shell left behind after the nymph transforms into a dragonfly and emerges as a winged adult. The Emperor's emergence happens overnight so sadly we didn't see it happening.

Emperor dragonfly Exuvia

Emperors are know as early pioneers of new ponds and were one of the very first visitors to our brand new, bare-earthed pond back in 2013. Three years on and our pond looks very different, teeming with aquatic life and surrounded by lush native plants and wildflowers creeping to cover much of its surface.

The Emperor dragonflies never returned after that first season, but we continued to see lots of Broad-bodied Chasers, Southern Hawkers as well as damselflies about.  Emperors will predate upon other chaser dragonflies, so I hope our population of those survives its emergence!

Broad-bodied chaser dragonfly

In between the summer storms we've been having I made a quick dash over the the Norfolk Broads in my first attempt to see a swallowtail butterfly. I had no joy but did see my first broad-bodied chaser dragonfly which was busy egg laying in a pool. [singlepic id=232 w=700 h=0 float=center]

Southern Hawker

Male Southern Hawker Hovering

Its late summer and already the weather is feeling very autumnal. I recently visited one of my favourite secluded dragonfly haunts and found the southern hawkers and common darters still zooming about and dancing over the water.

Hawker dragonflies are a fearless and highly competitive dragonfly species. They spend most of their time in flight hunting out smaller insects as prey.

[singlepic id=22 w=600 h=400 float=right] They are also highly competitive. It's beautiful to watch them do acrobatic battles with other dragonflies above the water, quite often there are conflicts between several dragonflies at once, reminiscent of a battle of Britain dogfight.

Like most predators. hawker dragonflies are very curious by nature and quite often one would come right up to hover in front of me for a few seconds before "buzzing" me and zooming off again. This shot was quite a challenge - it was taken handheld using manual focusing on my 180mm macro lens.

 
Photo Of The Month August 2011 - Hovering Southern Hawker Dragonfly Taken: Sole Common Pond, West Berkshire