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Dragonfly and Damselfly Photos 2023

  Southern Hawker, Boundary Brook NR, Oxford.

15 September 2023

A real end of season feel to this nature reserve today, but I did have some fun with this Southern Hawker that was patrolling around the small Garden Pond for well over an hour. Lighting was very variable from full sun to almost 100% cloud.

This hawker was tricky to get on to, as it was almost continuously in movement. However occasionally it would pause to hover momentarily, allowing me just enough time to latch onto it and get a burst of shots. 

This head on shot was taken during a sunny spell at ISO 3200.

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With autumn now having arrived in earnest, this may be my last dragonfly session of the year.
Southern Hawker, Boundary Brook NR, Oxford.

15 September 2023

This oblique angle photo was taken at the end of my session during a cloudy spell using a crazy ISO of 25,600! It is remarkable how the latest AI based noise reduction tools can clean this up. In this case I used DXO Pure Raw 3, followed by Topaz AI NR.

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Southern Hawker, Boundary Brook NR, Oxford.

15 September 2023

Without my customary x1.4TC on, these images seemed sharper allowing substantial crops.

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  Southern Hawker, Boundary Brook NR, Oxford.

15 September 2023

A sideways on photo at a more sensible ISO of a mere 6400.

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Southern Hawker, Boundary Brook NR, Oxford.

15 September 2023

Again this photo allowed a heavy crop.

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  Migrant Hawker, Faringdon Folly Park Pond, Oxon

6 September 2023

Not a lot was posing for photography at this site today. There were only 1 or 2 Migrant Hawkers and they weren't generally being at all obliging. This shot was from the only moderately close approach this one made.

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  Willow Emerald Damselfly, Grove Meadows Stormwater Pond, Oxon

5 September 2023

This is a first for this site, and is part of a rapid colonisation of the county since 2020.

This is a focus stacked image, which for those interested in such things was taken with the Canon R5 hand-held and standing up. The resulting sequence of images showed a lot of movement and warps/wobbles that I find plaque the images from this camera when hand held and standing up.

These issues defeated the Helicon Focus 7 software I use for focus stacking but I found that Photoshop has a very powerful image alignment tool that worked very well, when applied prior to the Helicon Focus stacking but at the expense of a huge amount of processing time and a need for an amazingly large amount of scratch disc space!
 

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  Migrant Hawker, Grove Meadows Stormwater Pond, Oxon

5 September 2023

My customary late season Migrant Hawker in flight shot, but this wasn't easy as there was only 1 present on and off, and it only hovered very briefly once.

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  Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Grove Meadows Stormwater Pond, Oxon

10 August 2023

My first visit to this local site in some time, due in no small part to the rotten weather. There were maybe 20-30 of these spread out over the algal mats but none were coming very close.

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  Common Darter, Grove Meadows Stormwater Pond, Oxon

10 August 2023

Common Darters in flight are comparatively easy to get onto with the R5, and make tempting subjects when there isn't much else around!

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Common Darter, Grove Meadows Stormwater Pond, Oxon

10 August 2023

A slightly different view as this was just starting to bank left.

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  Southern Hawker, Boundary Brook Nature Reserve, Oxford.

9 August 2023

This one appeared very briefly over the large pond, just allowing me to capture a few frames before it disappeared.

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  Common Darter, Boundary Brook Nature Reserve, Oxford.

9 August 2023

Hovering over the Garden Pond from time to time.

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  Common Darter, Faringdon Folly Park Pond, Oxon

3 August 2023

En route home from Standlake, I decided to make a diversion to this site as the sun was (briefly) out and it was almost warm.

This Common Darter briefly obliged by hovering in front of me in a small bay made for fishermen.

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  Emperor, Faringdon Folly Park Pond, Oxon

3 August 2023

By now the sun had retreated again behind the clouds and so the light was quite poor. This Emperor was patrolling along the western end of the pond but was someway out. I ended up taking this shot with a crazy ISO of 25,600, but its amazing what the latest NR tools (in this case DXO PureRaw and Topaz) can do now to clean even this level of noise up!

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  Southern Migrant Hawker, Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon

26 July 2023

With a sunny morning forecast at last it was time for another attempt at Southern Migrant Hawker.

My aim, ever since they were discovered on Otmoor in 2020, was to get a flight shot of one. So although I managed, at last, to get a photo of one settled two weeks ago, there were no opportunities then for flight photography.

With Ian Lewington having found a spot where in-flight photos seemed possible, this is where I headed.

Immediately I arrived there were at least 2 flying around but it took some time (and many shots) to get some reasonable photos.

In this one, the dragonfly is sideways on, with the tip of the abdomen and the head all in focus.

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Southern Migrant Hawker, Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon

26 July 2023

Another sideways on photo with a similarly dark background.

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Southern Migrant Hawker, Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon

26 July 2023

Almost head-on. 

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Southern Migrant Hawker, Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon

26 July 2023

Just starting a turn.

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Southern Migrant Hawker, Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon

26 July 2023

This dragonfly only landed briefly a couple of times when I was there, neither on a "nice" perch with a clean background. Here it is on dense vegetation near the ground.

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Southern Migrant Hawker, Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon

26 July 2023

Settled high up in a small tree - many thanks to Wayne Bull for his patience in eventually getting me on to it!

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  Southern Migrant Hawker, Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon

13 July 2023

At last, after numerous attempts in 2020 on Otmoor, where they were originally found, I finally connected with one in nearby Whitecross Green Wood this year!

Including another failed attempt on Otmoor this year, I reckon this was about my 12th time lucky. So if each visit lasted about 2 hours, that's about 24 hours in the field before finally getting an Oxon photo of this beauty!

This one was along the main E/W ride, about 50m past the 3-way junction with the sign.

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  Red-eyed Damselfly, Faringdon Folly Park Pond, Oxon

16 June 2023

Just as I was about to depart, I found this spot where Red-eyed Damselflies were hanging around and flying around in a small confined area, not far out.

So I though I'd try some in-flight damselfly photography which was only feasible thanks to the amazing eye detection AF on the Canon R5. It doesn't usually recognise dragonfly eyes, but had no problems with this damselfly when it was facing the camera!

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Red-eyed Damselfly, Faringdon Folly Park Pond, Oxon

16 June 2023

A somewhat easier to get photo of a tandem pair - that were moving much slower than the individuals.

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  Four-spotted Chaser, Faringdon Folly Park Pond, Oxon

16 June 2023

Briefly settled on the end of a leaf. In the hot weather this morning, everything was very jumpy!

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Four-spotted Chaser, Faringdon Folly Park Pond, Oxon

16 June 2023

A different perspective! I was quite surprised that this focus stacking sequence worked out, as the previous one I'd tried, which less ambitious, didn't due to movement.

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  Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Grove Meadows Stormwater Pond, Oxon

15 June 2023

I was surprised to find a few of these on the floating vegetation as it is quite early for them.

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  Azure Damselfly, Grove Meadows Stormwater Pond, Oxon

15 June 2023

Plenty of Azures at this site today!

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  Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly, Dida Gardens, Didcot, Oxon

9 June 2023

Took a bit of finding in the now heavily overgrown smaller stormwater pond.  Last year it was almost clear water, today it was full of rushes etc!

It is also took some time to get a sequence of shots with a reasonably clean background for focus stacking.

Click to enlarge
  Emperor, Grove Meadows Storm Water pond, Oxon

2 June 2023

To start with all I could find here were damselflies out on the floating vegetation but then an Emperor zoomed past which certainly got my attention.

Fortunately despite the blustery conditions it posed just once before disappearing round the other side.

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  Emergent Clubtail and exuvia. Goring (Gatehampton) Railway Bridge, Oxon

26 May 2023

There was far more grass along the top of the wall that goes under the bridge, and overhanging it, than ever before. This made spotting anything on the wall  more difficult and hazardous than previously. Nevertheless with care I found 2 exuviae and this emergent that was just about to fly off.

Indeed when I looked away briefly I found it had gone, ruling out any further attempts for photography and spotting where it went. So rather frustrating.
 

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  Azure Damselfly, Grove Meadows Storm Water pond, Oxon

24 May 2023

Not many photo opps around this pond today. Clearly still early days in the season.

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All pictures copyright Stephen Burch

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