Jewels of the Insect world

June and July are the peak months of the dragonfly season. Many of the late spring species are coming to an end and for a very brief period overlap with the emerging summer species. July is the season for hawkers the Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis is one of the first on the scene along with Common Hawker Aeshna juncea. The Brown Hawker is frequently encountered around fens, small ponds and lakes. The Common Hawker prefers upland and lowland bogs, streams and flushes in mountain areas. Photographically, these are the most challenging insects to nail. When the temperature is above the threshold for flight, they seldom settle and are virtually impossible to photograph. However, when the weather is inclement, both species will perch low down in vegetation for long periods of time, where the temperature can be a few degrees warmer. The Brown Hawker often rests among the foliage near the ground, and if searched for early in the morning, it can often be found along the marginal edges of fens and lakes. The Common Hawker frequently perches among heather or on the branches of trees if conditions are calm.

I have spent over 20 years of my photographic career studying and photographing these jewels of the insect world. I take virtually all of my images from a tripod, occasionally a monopod, if the terrain is difficult. I prefer to shoot these insects with short telephotos + extension tubes, alternatively, a 200mm macro and fill flash for increased lens to subject distance. Both these images were taken in overcast conditions, and in early evening using 150mm plus extension tubes.

Common Blue Hawker Aeshna juncea (male)

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