• Barbara Copperthwaite

Flying sunshine

Broad-bodied chaser (female), Barbara Copperthwaite, Go Be Wild

Broad-bodied chaser, Barbara Copperthwaite, Go Be Wild

The warm air was full of birdsong, a Robin’s crystal clear call dominating them all. As I moved along, a couple of Wood Pigeons were scared up, their wings making that familiar noise as they gained height, the tips of their wing feathers lit up almost transparent as they briefly passed above me in the sunshine.

But I wasn’t looking at the Wood Pigeons, I wasn’t listening to the beautiful call of birds, I wasn’t even taking any notice of the different honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees that were buzzing round me. I only had eyes for the air above Henbury Pond. I was looking to see if I’d spot more than one Large Red Damselfly today.

The first thing I saw? A horizontal glint of pale blue. It was the Common Blue Damsefly! A dozen or more of them flashing through the air. Then I saw reds joining them, and as I looked two Large Reds actually joined together for mating. Initially they flew joined together, then landed to form the wheel or heart position needed for mating proper.

I got the camera out, all excited to get a picture of them, but at that moment something way bigger caught my eye. Big and fat and golden, it looked like a piece of sun had fallen and was now skimming the earth, exploring the air inches above the surface of Henbury Pond. It genuinely almost looked inner lit the colouring was so intense as it made big, lazy circles.

There I am looking at this thing, trying to work out what it is because I can’t make it out properly, and have completely forgotten about the damselflies in my bid to solve this mystery. Willing it to land so I can get a clearer view of it. I see its wings, it looks dragonfly-like.

Finally, it rests on a twig poking up from the surface of the water. Through my camera, I get a better look and see the wonderful wings and head of a Broad-Bodied Chaser. I can barely contain my excitement as I snap away, because this is the first time I’ve been able to photograph one. But I can’t see its stunning thorax properly, so start sidling round very slowly. It took me a while, but eventually I made it round to the other side without disturbing it.

It was a female Broad-Bodied Chaser that I had spotted, as the males are a fabulous powder blue (I’ll be keeping my eye out for a picture of that!). It is common in ponds all over England and Wales, but rarely ventures into Scotland.

I’m so pleased with the photographs. I love getting photographs of something for the first time. I’m on cloud nine, and cannot wipe the massive smile off my face.

#largereddamselfly #commonblue #broadbodiedchaser #highburypark #kingsheath

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