Tuesday 26 June 2012

Emergence of a Four-Spotted Chaser Dragonfly

On one memorable morning last month I was fortunate enough to see three different dragonfly nymphs emerge from a local pond onto a reed and to transform themselves into adult Four-Spotted Chaser dragonflies. I normally consider myself fortunate if I witness the full transformation process once in a summer but to see it three times in the space of an hour was something else. Clearly, through a combination of judgement and pure luck I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

As you can imagine, I took one or two images (!) including a number of wide angle images which I shall save for a later post, but here are a few taken with my Sigma 150mm macro lens.

The first couple of images show the dragonfly soon after it starts pushing its way out of the exuvia. After a while it reaches a point where it sits upside down and motionless and looks as if it is about to drop onto the ground, as shown by the right hand image. However, having observed an emergence before I knew that I just had to be patient. Sure enough, after a good few minutes collecting its strength it suddenly lifted itself upwards and within a few seconds pulled its way free of the exuvia.


These first two images required me to get into position pretty quickly but in truth I wasn't happy with the light or the background. After a few minutes I therefore gently twisted the reed just a few degrees (I was holding it with a Plamp) which made all the difference to the background and the light, as can be seen below.

In the above 2 images the dragonfly is now free of its exuvia and remains motionless while its body and wings expand. The speed with which the wings expand is quite remarkable - these two images were taken just a few minutes apart.

After a few more minutes I tilted my camera slightly and took a landscape image:

As I have mentioned, I also have a number of wideangle images of the transformation process but I'll save those for a later post.