Happy New Year!!!
Now that the holydays are over and I have returned from my own holyday, I can get back to the usual program of posting every week an article with 6or7 different animal species, usually uploaded every Wednesday.
This time I will describe another beautiful, sunny summer day, this time from late August. On a walk with some friends, from home to the sea, I have found a small pond where I’ve spotted lots and lots of cool dragonflies in full activities. Because I didn’t have to much time to photograph them I have decided to come back at a later day and spend more time there. That’s what I did. From where I live, there is only 3-4 km to the sea and I have to pass through two patches of forest, cross a road and also through the ground of a University and Museum, Moesgaard Museum. Because I have arrived a few hours after the sunrise I did not have a chance to find dragonflies that were sitting, only active ones and occasionally some that rested for few seconds. So I have set down in a spot and tried to see what I can catch.
In all the agitation there was one species of dragonfly that stood out through its size and colours, it was the Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis). The Brown Hawker is a large species of dragonfly with a length of aproximative 73 mm (2.9 in) and it is very active and territorial, constantly patrolling its territory. It is common through Europe, excepting some places, and it can usually be found on well-vegetated ponds, lakes and canals. The blue spots on the one in the picture are a sign the individual it’s a male and the species can be recognised by the brown body and bronze wings. I have watched this dragonfly for at least 2 hours and never managed to spot it sitting so I have tried capturing her/him while it was flying. I only got this two usable picture and even these are average. It is extremely hard to find them in the viewfinder, than it is even harder to focus on them.
While hunting dragonflies with my camera, other insects appeared in the grass around me. One example is this Small Copper Butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas) that I have spotted wile tracing a dragonfly. At first glance I thought it to be a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly (Aglais urticae) but soon realise that it is a species that I have never seen before. It is a species known to be very territorial, defenting its territory from every passing insect even the shadows of a flying bird being enough to arouse him. It is widespread across Europe, Asia, North America and North Africa but it is almost never seen in large numbers.
Another insect spotted in the grass next to where I was sitting was one that gave me the opportunity to use my phone macro lens and do some close-ups. The Seven-spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella
There were few different species of dragonflies on that pond, some I have described and photographed before so I have not focused on them, but another one that was present in large numbers and gave me plenty of opportunities to take good pictures of it was the Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum). Called a darter because of their warning signals towards its rival by suddenly darting at them from a resting position. They have a quick flight with rapid changes of directions and can be found also in semi aquatic conditions. I have personally found them on forests paths, reeds or meadows. I managed to catch in photos different behaviours of this dragonfly like mating, egg depositing or just resting.
After sitting in one spot for about two hours I have walked around the pond before heading home. On a plant was sitting this little fellow, a Wolf Spiders (Family Lycosidae) that, to my surprise, allowed me to get quite close with the camera. I have a book for spider identification but I found it hard to use and because of lack of time I did not manage to get used to it so the spiders will most likely get identified only to the family level. Every time I look at the pictures my sight goes directly at the spiders eyes, which I think they are very cute. With their two eight eyes arranged in three rows, the wolf spiders have the third-best eye sight of all spider groups. They have four small eyes on the bottom row, the two large eyes that are apparent in the picture are on the middle row and on the top row there are two middle-sized ones.
A bit further from the pond, on my way home, I have stopped to photograph a group of Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus). They can be easily identified by their rich chestnut crown and nape, and a black patch on their white cheek. They present no plumage difference between the sexes and even the juveniles look almost the same as the adults except they have duller colours. They are present all over temperate Europe and Asia but they were introduced in many other places around the globe and because of their large numbers and distribution they are not threaten although in some areas their numbers are in decline. Where both the house sparrows and the tree sparrows are present in the same area, usually the house sparrow will breed in urban settings while the smaller tree sparrow will nest in countryside. That is also my experience of seeing the tree sparrow in more wild settings, less often and in fewer numbers.
Thank you for reading and please leave a comment below with any suggestion, information, story… anything.
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For all species found on my spotting adventures, take a look at INaturalist.
The gear that I’ve used for spotting and book used for identification, here.