Planarchy Archive - August 2006


Another Ruddy One!

Well, I know you like the dragons nearly as much as I do, so here's another Ruddy Darter snapped last month at the pond I now call the Former Children's Boating Lake but which I used to refer to as St.Peter's Pond due to its proximity to the slightly pretentiously named, St.Peter's in the Forest Church which was, I suppose, possibly in the forest when 'twas built and anyway I quite understand that St Peter's on the edge of the urban sprawl of Walthamstow doesn't have quite the same ring to it. 

But I digress, this Ruddy Darter, snapped last month just before we went away, represents an important shot for me as it's the first Dragonfly photo from the new camera that I've been happy with.  It always takes some time to get used to a new camera and for macro work this has been particularly true of the Canon 5D with me.  A shame that we're coming close to the end of the dragonfly season just as I get it sorted out, eh? 

For, following on from Gavin's query, dragonflies die come autumn, if not earlier, indeed they spend a very short proportion of their lives on the wing as adult dragonflies.  The eggs are laid in water, usually attached to vegetation just below the surface (watching them oviposit by flicking their tails into the surface of the water is a wonder in itself).  In most species the eggs hatch within a few weeks of laying but there are some where the eggs over winter and the larvae do not emerge until the following spring.  Which ever is the case the larvae then go through several aquatic stages (which used to be called instars but are now bizarrely called stadia (singular: stadium!) during which they moult.  The time spent as a larvae varies from a few months to several years depending on the species and ambient temperatures.  The larvae finally climbs out the pond, either up a reed or sometimes up the bank and then finally the adult dragonfly emerges from the larva.  Ta da! (freshly emerged Broad Bodied Chaser from earlier this year and the exuvia it came from).

I've not noticed any fewer dragonflies this year despite last year the pond drying up but I have observed (or not!) far lower numbers of Damselflies, the dragon's smaller cousins.  We used to have Azure, Blue Tailed and Large Red Damselflies (amongst others)in abundance up at St.Peter's pond throughout the summer but this year I've only seen a few (very few) Azures.  Maybe the Damsels are less well adapted to survive in dried up ponds or maybe it's just a coincidence.  Sad anyway and I hope the dragonfly numbers don't also decline.

20060824   13:09

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Ruddy Darters

A sad time for Dragonflies with the dwindling pond surfaces around here.  Yesterday I came across this pair of Ruddy Darters attempting to lay their eggs amongst the grass as the pond they'd emerged from has all but dried up.  That's the end of their family tree. 

Whilst following them I bumped into a pair of gents with tee shirts proclaiming a large furniture retailer who introduced themselves by saying I'd missed a great shot the other side of the so-called pond where a young fox club had just caught a young duck.  Drat!

They continued with tales of when this pond had been a busy children's boating lake (as it is still refered to on at least one map) rather than just a stretch of bulrushes with a puddle or two in between.  They'd grown up round here apparently and made little pilgrimages whenever they were in the area... charming guys to meet but if your sofa was late being delivered yesterday maybe we now know why.... .

20060823   17:38

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Hello Again

Good to be back, hope no-one missed me too much (but I also hope no-one missed me not at all!).  We've been at my brother's sunny and rainy alpine retreat for the last couple of weeks where there is not an internet in sight.  Lots of pictures were taken, even in the rain and a very pleasant and relaxing time was had by all.  One day you may get to see some of the pictures I took along with more from the Scilly Isles (like the one below) and possibly even some from our Corfiot holiday back in June.  There's even a very remote possibility that I might recall some from my skiing break back in April.  Paris from four years ago?  Probably not now, no.

In the meantime here's some Gerberas past their best yet somehow still begging to their photo taken.  Hope everyone is well and full of the joys of autumn.

20060819   15:58

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Bloody hell, yet more time has passed with nout from him at Planarchy towers.... I'd cancel your subscriptions if I were you.  Except it's free so you just don't have to come any more.

Anyway, as you can see Zee and I have been somewhere with really big skies.  And next we're off to somewhere with really big mountains (with the girls too).  I'll try and get round to telling you more but bearing in mind I've not yet told you about Corfu from two months ago I wouldn't hold your breaths.

Hope you're all well and enjoying the much cooler weather.

Oh, and the colours were not adjusted in Photoshop, 'twas just like that.

20060803   18:49

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