Dragonflies

Little Bradley Ponds

First visit on Saturday to Little Bradley Ponds near Bovey Tracey. Apparently its ‘dragonfly heaven’.

The morning sun had already been obscured by thick wodges of cloud by the time we got there (around 11) We sit on the spongy rim of the pond munching our hogs pud sarnies staring out at the gentle pitter patter of rain on the lily pads. No dragonflies today.

Today the forecast is better, so we shoot up there again; plonk ourselves down on the rim of the pond again with hogs pud and bacon sarnies, flask of coffee, flapjacks, hoola hoops. And wait.

Here they come, flashing around everywhere: dancing red darters ovipositing; and chasing emperors (or southern hawkers, we still aren’t sure which) hunting. The thrill that wasn’t here yesterday is back again as the hawkers whizz around our heads so fast. Its almost impossible to get the camera on them.

Big clots of clouds keep blotting out the sun. The sun-sense in the dragonflies is so acute they immediately stop flying; it’s like they need the sun’s light for their eyes and the sun’s warm in their wings to come alive.

It’s peaceful here though. No walkers hording around. No dogs. No kids screeching. We’ve got this dragonfly pond all to ourselves. It’s ours. We’ve claimed it for the day.

This pond has got a little island centering it, and lily pads polka dotting the surface. It’s surrounded and sheltered by trees. On a hot sunny summer day this pond would indeed be dragonfly heaven.

And it’s not been too bad today either. I’m getting enough glimpses of these greeny blue whizzers to make this vid.

By 4 o’clock we’ve packed up and gone – whizzing back to Torquay in a trice. Feeling like we’ve got what we went for: a lovely dragonfly afternoon of peace and tranquility. Another ‘gold medal moment’.

A place to return to. Next spring perhaps. With a tent.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

Southern Hawker Dragonfly

Haze went up to Tessier Gardens yesterday and within minutes one of these was flying around the little pond.

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A Southern Hawker dragonfly. Not uncommon, but mightily impressive. Almost double the size of the Red Darters we’d seen mating around the pond a couple of weeks ago,

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Haze has made the wings yellower and less transparent than they are in reality.

This was a female. She was ovipositing her eggs not into the water, but onto the mossy stones around the pond.

A marvelous moment. Haze, hands shaking with excitement, was thrilled to have got these pictures with her mobile phone.

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We’re going up again to Tessier Gardens on the weekend. To see if we can see, and film, this beauty again. Hope so.

Words: Ian Nisbet; Photos & Drawing: Hazel Brown

Dragonflies mating in Tessier Gardens

Finally, what we’d been waiting for arrived – the sun!

So now we can get over to that little pond, for sure enough, here they are, flying about.

Dragonflies. Red Darters. Dozens of them. Flitting around like helicopters.

Males looking for females. And when they find females they are locking the ladies in.

Into a heart. Grabbing the girls around the neck and joining them fast to their ‘ovipositors’; then aggressively yanking these hapless females around the pond, dipping and dunking them into the water, trying to get them to deposit their eggs (holding fast, so as to prevent other likely lads shunting their sperm in)

I was only hoping to see one or two again, to supplement the fleeting footage I’d got yesterday afternoon with a bit more fleeting footage – of the beating of wings hovered over the lily pads in the pond.

But I got much much more! This was being extraordinary. I was totally transfixed, as locked on to the whole spectacle as the males were locked on to their females. It was intensely absorbing, exhilarating. I shot about 55 minutes of vid clips, of which this film is just the merest 4 minutes.

We were made up me and Haze. We’d just witnessed, and experienced, and shared, yet another Gold Medal Moment together!

Words & Vid : Ian Nisbet

Stover Park is Good!

If you’ve spent Sunday afternoon shopping in Trago Mills you’re probably in dire need of respite, recovery, refuge.

Stover Park is just over the road.

There’s a lake to walk your dog around. There’s a bird feeder observation point to scoot your kids around. There’s a Hide to tweetle birdies on the lake from. There’s Ted Hughes poems to read on marble posts. There’s a natty little dragonfly pond.

As soon as the sun appeared, dragonflies and damselflies skeetered around the rim of the pond. I think I only got a few dragonflies in this vid.

‘Only got’?! Dragonflies! Being there for me to film! No only about it. Only very. Got to be good.

And there were bees being good. And swans. And chaffinches, tits, and tree creepers, a woodpecker. All good.

And there was a squirrel being very good!

PS No pre or post Trago Mills shopping was suffered in the making of this film!

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet