All of a flutter over close-ups
ANY photographer likes his or her subject to sit still and that makes wildlife photography difficult – unless you are taking pictures of plants.
Dragonflies and damselflies are some of our most colourful insects and yet they are quite skittish about having their photos taken. So why do you see so many pictures of these creatures in close up, full colour and high resolution?
It’s quite simple, when the weather gets a bit overcast they slow down and act like proper posers on various plants and flowers. Also, at this time of year, there is no shortage of dragonflies and damselflies motoring around the region to add a splash of summer colour.
You can tell the difference between stick-thin damselflies and sturdier dragonflies in flight and at rest. In flight dragonflies are much more focused on where they are heading; in a solid straight line about the same height above ground unless disturbed. Damselflies appear to zig-zag a lot more and to have more trouble getting around than dragonflies.
When they land, damselflies will rest with their wings laid back along their long, slim bodies. Dragonflies settle with wings at right angles to their thicker torsos, hence lots of intricate detail on pictures.
I understand a huge dragonfly flying towards you might seem terrifying to some people but the big myth is that these wonderful beasties will sting you. In folklore they have been given names like ‘horse stinger’ – a great name for a hero in Game of Thrones.
A friend of mine showed me a picture of a large dragonfly on his hand and told me that it was trying to bite him. However its jaws are not big enough to break human skin although they are a fantastic instrument when chomping on smaller insects.
My first experience of taking pictures of damselflies in repose was quite spectacular when I got some great shots of a strikingly blue banded demoiselle. The first thing I noticed was its colour and big black eyes. Then I noticed its wings had a black band, which provide its name. The band looks a bit like someone has picked it up by the wing and left a fingerprint.
This is a large damselfly which lives along the edges of slow-flowing rivers and canals, still ponds and lakes and among lush vegetation.
Male banded demoiselles are metallic blue with broad, dark blue patches on each wing; females are metallic green with pale greenish wings.
Of the UK’s damselflies, only the banded demoiselle and similar beautiful demoiselle have coloured wings. Female beautiful damselflies have brown wings and a green body, the males have dark-coloured wings against a metallic blue-green body. My subject allowed me to shove the camera in his face and get some glorious shots. I don’t think I have taken anything as good since then but you will often see me chasing through the undergrowth on our reserves.
To support the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside text WILD09 with the amount you want to donate to 70070. It is dedicated to the protection and promotion of the wildlife in Lancashire, seven boroughs of Greater Manchester and four in Merseyside. It manages around 60 nature reserves covering acres of woodland, wetland, upland and meadow. The Trust has 27,000 members, and over 1,200 volunteers.
To become a member of this branch go to: lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For details about Cheshire Wildlife Trust go to cheshirewildlifetrust. org.uk.
●● Demoiselle in stunning fine detail