Tuesday 4 August 2020

Four Emeralds and some Sapphire Eyes - 3rd August 2020

Yesterday was a very simply day. I came north of the river to do a few little pick up and drop off jobs and then headed along the A13 to Canvey with the intention of having a look at the infamous Canvey Ditch and its Odonata.
The four Emerald Damselflies and Blue Eyed Hawkers are the main attraction and perhaps you would ask why I would come back into Essex when there are heaps in North Kent near home? Well, the BEHs around Cliffe and so on are on still wet, luxuriant ditches with almost no way of looking into them and although you will see them patrolling, getting a chance to take a picture is another matter.

Canvey Ditch on the other hand is almost bone dry and grazed and trampled and you can meander back and forth and view from both sides.  The Emeralds also love the dry conditions.

I spent a pleasant visit there where thankfully the light breeze dissuaded the Clegs from being too much of a problem.  The BEHs were holding territories along the whole length and I counted 29 males and a solitary female that had one of the males firmly attached.

They are such an engaging dragonfly; bold and brazen and in your face if you step into their patch. At least this gives you a fair chance to have a got a trying for some flight shots as they often hover in roughly the same spots before zooming off again.

I have been practicing and experimenting with my Sony RX10 mkIV at flight shots of birds and such like and have had a go at a few insects on the wing but this time I put the effort in and was well rewarded.  I have it set on the autofocus setting that still allows me to manually ‘push’ something into focus that it is having trouble finding and there was just enough time in a hover moment o do this and get a shot off – sometimes two if I was lucky. I still only used single shot as I can’t be bothered with going through a heap of near identical out of focus images. I even tried it on shutter priority as well as aperture and the higher shutter speed certainly helped.  I am still learning but this little session has certainly given me the confidence to keep trying.

If the sun briefly disappeared then they might briefly settle from their patrols although hw one or two of them were even flying given the state of their wings is anyone’s guess. I even found one quietly devouring a Ruddy Darter.

How is this getting airborne?

Snack time

The Emerald Damselflies were quite tricky to get close too and the two Southerns that I saw escaped my camera but I did see several chunky Scarce, slender Common and a female Willow that was my first of the year and thicker of body than I am used to seeing.

I will have a go at getting these right... please do correct!

Scarce ED

Scarce ED

Scarce ED

Scarce ED

Scarce ED

Willow ED
Ruddy Darter

Ruddy Darter

Ruddy Darter love grip

Ruddy Darter

Tiny baby Common Lizards were in the ditch bottom and I found a few hoverflies including Eristalis aenus and Eupeodes latifasciatus.

Eristalinus aeneus

male Eupeodes latifasciatus... I think

Several Wasp Spiders were my first encountered this season and Meadow, Field and Lesser Marsh Grasshoppers along with Short and Long-winged Coneheads were to be seen.

Wasp Spider

Short- winged Conehead

Having escaped getting devoured by Clegs I decided to head for Canvey Wick for a walk round. I have only been once before and already rank it probably second on the Dogshitometer for the level of how tricky it is to avoid steaming piles in the first 300 yards.  Only Cliffe Pools (3rd) and The Naze (1st) deserve similar status.

That aside I had a pleasant walk around although the cloud was building up a little.  Three male Blue Eyed Hawkers were along the main path and I found Southern, Brown and Migrant further out towards Holehaven Creek. 

I found two flurry bees on a dead flower head and they allowed me to take some pics but they were not a Colletes as I thought but male Dasypoda hirtipes which I have not come across before.

male Dasypoda hirtipes

I found some flowering Fennel which had a few Wasps including two nectaring male and two female Bee Wolves on it along with Eriothrix rufomaculata and Eristalis arbustorum.

Philanthus triangulum male - yellow - not reddy behind the eyes and half the size of female

Six Spot Burnet

The tide was almost full in at Holehaven Creek and there were some glowing clumps of Golden Samphire growing just below high tide with their feet wet. 

Golden Samphire

I continued on the loop around but saw little else but scattered patched of naturalised Rose Campion amongst the carpets of yellow Fleabane. I tiptoed my way back to the main path finding Jersey Cudweed, Blue Fleabane, Red Bartsia and the not quite rip fruits of Sea Buckthorn on the way.

Blue Fleabane

Jersey Cudweed

Jersey Cudweed

Red Bartsia

Sea Buckthorn

Rose Campion
And thus my adventuring was done for the day and I had no idea at that stage just how good my dragonfly shots actually were...

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