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Welcome to this blog dedicated to the Dragonflies of France and elsewhere. Who hasn't felt in awe by their beauty? Census, discoveries, talks, explanations and quality photographs are the main objectives here!
To publish your dragonfly photos here, read the Publishing Conditions and contact Noushka at the link above.

3 juin 2016

Emerging White-faced Darter at Whixall Moss - on 23rd May, 2016

It was September, 2015 when Noushka invited me to be a contributor to Dragonfly World. Until now, I have thought that I didn't have anything interesting to contribute, but I had a splendid experience on Monday 23rd May which I feel may be of interest to people who visit this site. I apologise if the photography is not up to the usual high standard you are accustomed to.

It was at 11h31 that I noticed a dragonfly nymph making its way across the weed. I subsequently confirmed that this was of White-faced Darter (WFD) - Leucorrhinia dubia.

White-faced Darter (Leucorrhinia dubia) (nymph) - Whixall Moss
I watched it for a while as it travelled over weed, under water, and through a 'soup' of algae.

White-faced Darter (Leucorrhinia dubia) (nymph) - Whixall Moss
It was then that 'the penny dropped' - 'it's making for the bank and it's going to emerge!!!'

11h50 = datum + 000 minutes    Nymph leaves the water and starts ascending the bank   

White-faced Darter (Leucorrhinia dubia) (nymph) - Whixall Moss
Now this is the sad bit! I was standing about 10 feet (3 metres) away and the nymph crawled into the vegetation and I lost sight of it. I went round to the area that it had disappeared into but didn't dare search too closely for fear of damaging it. I couldn't find it so then retreated again to my original position. I spent some time watching and then gave up, being distracted by other things going on.

Suddenly I noticed that a dragonfly had emerged from its casing immediately above where I'd seen the nymph emerge. I'd missed the hanging downwards bit whilst the legs, etc dried, and here it was with body upright and wings just emerged.

This is the bit that I missed, and this is of another individual taken that same day.

White-faced Darter (Leucorrhinia dubia) (emerging female) - Whixall Moss
All the following images are now of the original individual observed.

12h48 = datum + 058 minutes    Dragonfly now emerged and hanging on to the exuvia   

White-faced Darter (Leucorrhinia dubia) (newly emerged female) - Whixall Moss
The thing that I found remarkable at this stage was that the WFD sported an almost luminous green face!

I was now watching intently and determined to see this through until it took its first flight.

12h55 = datum + 065 minutes    Wings now starting to fill out   

Just seven minutes later and the emergent WFD was starting to look different. The green face was now yellow, and the wings were taking shape. It had also moved slightly higher up the blade of grass.

It was now getting more breezy and sunny weather was starting to give way to cloud. This meant that the newly emerged dragonfly was blowing around and making photography more difficult.

12h58 = datum + 068 minutes    Wings now filling out  a little further 

13h20 = datum + 090 minutes    Wings now getting much clearer

13h24 = datum + 094 minutes    First partial opening of wings

At around this time I got the impression that the process had slowed down somewhat. This might well have been due to conditions turning dull and colder, with an increasing breeze.

13h41 = datum + 111 minutes    Abdomen extending and starting to take on colour

14h23 = datum + 153 minutes    Wings spread, abdomen extended, and markings visible

14h47 = datum + 177 minutes    Markings clearly visible and abdomen well-coloured

Whilst taking those last two images, I sensed by the movement that she was ready to fly, and moments later she flew and disappeared into the distance. It had been almost exactly 3 hours from the nymph leaving the water to the flight of the teneral adult. This was the first time I'd ever watched the transition from nymph to teneral adult, but I hope it won't be the last.

My last act before heading homeward was to take the exuvia as a souvenir, and carefully place it in a glass phial that I'd taken for this very purpose! This itself was a rather hazardous process as it twice blew away as I was attempting to coax it into the phial!

White-faced Darter (Leucorrhinia dubia) (exuvia of female) - from Whixall Moss
Please forgive me if I have broken any of the rules with this post - it is my first time!

8 commentaires:

  1. Lovely to see them again Richard and a great set they are. Quality wise, nothing wrong with these at all and hopefully I may get my own set at the weekend. Nice to see you posting here. A great place to share your photos.

  2. Thank you, Marc. Good luck for Sunday!

  3. Welcome in our sect, Richard! Very beautiful series, even if you missed a part of it, but they are always difficult to find in their vague environment! That species is very localized in France, only in acid water as peat bogs. On one of the pictures (the 4th) we distinguish a carnivorous plant(Drosera intermedia, may be), see frequently in these places. Thank you for this beautiful sharing, greetings, M.

    1. Thank you, Morikan, for your kind words of encouragement. This species is also extremely localised in England - only 2 locations, I believe!

      The Drosera is Drosera rotundifolia, the Round-leaved Sundew. There is an image of this and more from the same day at

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  4. Magnifique série et documentaire sur la Leucorrhinia dubia
    Merci de ce partage

  5. WOW, Richard, your coming back here is truly impressive!!
    I have never seen a WFD emerge and your footage is fantastic and very interesting!
    This is one of my favourite odonata but I have to climb in altitude peatbogs to find it.
    Many thanks for sharing this :)

    1. It is you own work, Noushka, (and that of Marc Heath) that has inspired me to take more interest in the Odonata. Thank you for your encouragement. I think that the owls might be taking second place to dragons, and might have to wait until the end of the season!

      Warm wishes - - - Richard


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