13 Jun 2014

13 June 14 - A Brilliant Emerald Jewel

Two years ago, I looked for Brilliant Emerald Dragonflies on the Fleet Canal. However, I was right at the end of their flying period & had no luck. Therefore, as it's one of the Southern Dragonflies I've yet to see, I was keen to have another look for them. Having seen the first were flying at the Black Pond at Esher Common in Surrey, then that looked a good place to try. Two advantages over the first attempt, I was going at a good time when they were freshly emerged. Secondly, it was a pond & therefore it should be easier to find them, compared to a canal which had no end to the extent to potential habitat. They like to fly in shady areas, but also on sunny days. So with the weather forecast predicting good warm weather with sunshine & some cloud, the conditions were looking good.
The Black Pond on Esher Common
The Black Pond on Esher Common: The Brilliant Emerald was at the far end of this bank, patrolling over a small area of shallow water. Unfortunately, the many dog walkers seem to think it's essential to throw a stick into the pond at the near end then have their dog swim the length of the pond's edge & walk out where the Brilliant Emerald is patrolling. Thus flushing it for several minutes. Glad I went mid week as a sunny weekend day would have been near impossible due to disturbance by dogs & unimaginative dog owners
The first Dragonfly I saw was a Black-tailed Skimmer & there were several males flying around the edge of the lake.
Black-tailed Skimmer: Male. Another blue Chaser with the combination of a slim abdomen, the black end to the abdomen, yellow edges to the blue abdomen & no dark wing bases
Initially, there was no sign of any Brilliant Emeralds, but then an Emerald came along the edge of the lake a couple of times, but quickly disappeared. On the brief views I had seen it, I couldn't rule out the similar looking Downy Emerald. I had no further sightings in the next few minutes, so carried on to the end of the pond, where I saw the Emerald again flying low over the water. After a couple of minutes of not being able to get any worthwhile photographs, I switched to the binoculars & could see the distinctive green and yellow face pattern of a Brilliant Emerald: success. The sun then came out & it flew into a small patch of sunlight under the trees where I managed to get some flight shots.
Brilliant Emerald: Male. They are brighter & more metallic, but this is very subjective. But they have a flattened yellow U band across the top of the forehead that turns up at each end which Downy Emerald doesn't have
Brilliant Emerald: Male. A close up of the flattened yellow U. This was even more obvious when fully face on, but I was using the bins & not the camera at the time
Brilliant Emerald: Male. Females have a downward spike at the end of the abdomen. Note, the sides of the yellow U are even visible side on (in this photo)
With the new Dragonfly seen & photographed, there was a few minutes to photograph some of the other residents of the Black Pond.