This photo, taken at the new pond, was both interesting and confusing. The beautiful dragonfly at the top of the picture is an Emperor, Britain’s largest dragonfly, laying her eggs into the pond. She is impressive and not confusing.
However, she was being repeatedly bombarded and harassed by another dragonfly. It was a noisy and aggressive spectacle, the Emperor even being pushed away a few times but always returning to this same spot.
It was this second dragonfly that I found so very perplexing. When it wasn’t attacking the Emperor, it was flying over the pond, bending its abdomen downwards and dabbing it into the water. So we could suppose it was a female and was laying eggs. There is only one species of dragonfly in the UK with a broad body shape like this, and that’s the Broad Bodied Chaser and indeed these dragonflies were emerging out of our Old Pond in May. However, females are green and yellow. Here are some photos of Broad Bodied Chasers that I took back then in May:
So, although the male Broad Bodied is a dusty blue colour, the females are green and yellow. Now here is another photo of the female Broad Bodied Chaser who was harassing the Emperor at the new pond:
I just didn’t understand what was going on and so sent the photo to the British Dragonfly Society who have now explained that elderly females can lose their green and yellow coloration and become blue like the male, although the whole abdomen never goes completely blue as a male’s would be. When they say ‘elderly’, they are calibrating their age scale using a life span of maybe three months for this stage of a dragonfly’s life cycle.
And so I now know a little bit more about Dragonflies. To thank them for their advice, I have joined the British Dragonfly Society and am looking forward to absorbing myself in all-things dragonfly in their membership magazine!