Mating Dragonflies of the British Isles

posted in: Dragonflies, Nature, Photography | 4

Mating Dragonflies of Britain

British Summertime and a time to get out into nature yet again and witness the beauty of nature, this time focusing on some beautiful Dragonfly and Damselfly species in glorious macro. there are a number of Dragonfly and Damselfly species taking to the air around the local ponds. Big and small were in abundance and not only that I was lucky enough to come across a few of the smaller species mating, namely the Common Darter Dragonflies and Emerald Damselflies.

common darter dragonfly macro photo
Macro Shot of a Female Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)
The Common Darter in the picture above is easily recognized by the cream or yellow stripe running down the length of the legs and the black band across the head just in front of the eyes. The predominant colour is red but there are other species that are very similar. One such species that can quite easily be mistaken for a Common Darter is the Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) but the difference can be distinguished via the legs being entirely black.
The picture above is of a female denoted by the light yellow thorax and abdomen.
immature common darter dragonfly macro photo
Immature Male Common Darter
A fully matured adult male has a deeper red coloured abdomen than the Immature male seen in the picture above which has a more orangey coloured abdomen.
The following set of images are of a couple of Common Darters mating. I was extremely lucky to come across two such pairs and get within a foot of one pair with a combo of  Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 DI Macro Lens and 12mm Kenko Extension Tube.
Click on the image to view Large Mating Dragonflies in action.

 Mating Common Darters

pait of mating dragonflies
Macro image of Mating Dragonflies – Common Darter’s
macro photo of mating dragonflies
Close-up photo of Mating Dragonflies – Female Common Darter
Another curiosity I came across was the Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis), the picture below is of the Brown Hawker Ovipositing. Ovispositing is what dragonflies do when depositing eggs by way of an ovipositor. This particular one was laying eggs on a piece of rotting wood in still water.
BUT that wasn’t the curiosity….

brown hawker dragonfly macro photo
Female Brown Hawker Oviposting
The curious thing was a Brown Hawkers cannibalistic actions. I saw one snatch a smaller Common Darter out of the air, go to ground amongst the thick grasses and proceed to take its head off and start eating it!
Until this point I was unaware of their cannibalistic compulsions.
If you take a close look at the following image you can see the Common Darters abdomen hanging out of the Brown Hawkers mouth.
cannibilism of dragonflies
Male Brown Hawker nibbling on a Common Darter
migrant hawker dragonfly image
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)

I was extremely lucky to capture this beautifully coloured Southern Hawker (Aeshan cyanea) also known as the Blue Darner the other day. It’s extremely difficult to snap the Hawker’s in flight because they are so skittish but this particular one took a liking to me or rather curiosity got the better of it. This species is known to approach people though due to its inquisitive nature. As it was hawking for food and doing its rounds it would come right up to me hover for a few seconds and skit off before coming back round for another go. Even though it gave me a chance of snapping him it still took many shots before I managed to get a couple of useable ones.
southern hawker dragonfly in flight

Airborne Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea)


Morphology of a Dragonfly (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Below is a list of books for all those eager or interested enough in learning about Dragonfly and Damselfly taxonomy, identification of species and much more, just click on the links for reviews of each particular book at Amazon.

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4 Responses

  1. Senad R

    Andy, amazing photos!
    I have to admit, i had no idea about thse insects, thank you for teaching me!

  2. Karen

    Your insect macros just blow me away!!!!

  3. Noushka

    Thanks for coming by on my blog!
    Where was your Common Darter taken?
    Very impressed with the Brown Hawker!! This one I never photographed!!
    You can check also "Libellules de France et d'Ailleurs" for French Odonatas since you are seriously interested by the subject!
    Mine are under the tag "Haute Garonne"!
    We are several to post on Dragons from all over France!
    Hope to see more soon here!!
    Kind regards!

  4. Dragonchaser

    Hi Antony, thanks for leaving a comment on my dragonfly blog. You have a really amazing blog that's jammed full of wonderful photos of wonderful things! There's so much in the world to see and shoot, it's no wonder you wander and wonder like you do! Happy New Year!

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