My dragonfly season has been pretty underwhelming so far this year – I had a Large Red Damselfly in late April and yesterday saw a Blue-tailed Damselfly outside the EHB Building at Loughborough University.
A few months back now I had book four places on a guided trip to Chartley Moss. As followers of the blog may well remember Leigh and I visited two years ago. At nearby Chartley Castle, Mary, Queen of Scots was held before being moved to Fotheringhay Castle to be executed… not a fate I wished to share from my crew, Skev, The Leicester Llama and Jim Graham. I was seriously worried that the Dragonflies would be late emerging.
After having badgered everyone to bring their wellies it was highly embarrassing to have left mine in the car when we met up. Thankfully, The Llama – Andy Mackay- let me borrow his.
Soon after appointed meet, 14.00, we were heading onto the bog. Chartley Moss is a rare example of a floating bog or Schwingmoor, formed by glaicial events millions of years ago – or just last week, for any Creationists reading this. Key facts though are the bog is about 3m of Peat floating on 14m of Water… at best.
The trees are the remains of Pines that have died and are very, very slowly decomposing in the anaerobic environment. It makes me think of a WWI Battle Field.
The main purpose of our trip was to see the rare White-faced Darter… though when Emma the reserve manager got everyone jumping on just a few feet of floating bog there were a few other white faces around.
We were soon into insects and bog plants with plenty of Latticed Heath Moths zipping about.
The first dragins we encountered were, predictably Large Red Damselfies but we soon had great views of up to 10 White-faced Darter, a few bluets, including Azure Damselfly and Common Blue Damselfly. A couple of the lads saw a Quad as well but I missed this.
I had bought a new Sigma 150mm macro for insect photography but on a floating bog with danger of death at every turn the 100-400mm ISM zoom seemed best bet. I did use a 35mm extension tube as well. The risks of disappearing are highlighted by Skev slowly sinking into the Sphagnum Moss.
We weren’t in too much danger though as it appears that Private Godfrey had got a pass out from his sister, Dolly and brought along his little first aid bag.
The Darters were pretty active and getting good shots was difficult. Whixall Moss is better for close encounters but nowhere near as enchanting.
Our time on the bog was over all too soon… it was scorching though and I needed water. There were still a few things to see as we left.
Getting home, I was soon off the Kelham Bridge to get brief flight views of what we thought was a Purple Heron… until the finder reviewed his photos to reveal what is probably and aptly described by the Llama as a: Manky Grey Heron.