23 February, 2010

Dragons and a damsel

The Ungardener is having fun exploring the possibilities of his new camera. Sometimes - why won't it do that? Why doesn't it focus? What on earth is it doing? And then he caught a blaze of dragonflies (Tx Wikipedia collective nouns), and a far more elusive and fragile damsel. But despite the name, these are all highly visible MALES.


Someone was enchanted by our red dragonflies. We have two sorts so far, and more in our book.

Small Scarlet

Small Scarlet dragonfly. This one has a very broad abdomen. Common in the summer. Found in pools (and streams). Range extends to equatorial Africa.

Red-veined Dropwing

Red-veined Dropwing dragonfly. Has black marks on the tip of the abdomen, not so visible as he is sky-pointing, and back-lit. Settle with their wings downwards and forwards, on reeds or grass. Making short forays for food, or, if male, to pursue intruders. Numerous in a wide variety of vegetation types. One of the most common dragonflies, with a very wide range that includes all of Africa and the Mediterranean.

March Bluetail

March Bluetail is a damselfly. The male is a brilliant blue with blue and white wing spots. The females may be pale green or orange (how am I supposed to keep up with that?!) Adults from October to June, often in a group. Found in slow flowing water (that would be the waterfall and the pump circulating the water). The most common and widespread damselfly in South Africa. Range extends to equatorial Africa and India.

2004 Field guide to Insects of South Africa by Mike Picker et al.
All the facts are from this book.
All the flippant asides are mine.


Photos by Jurg,
and words by Diana of Elephant's Eye


  1. If only we all had such cameras! How wonderful. How beautiful!

    Where I live, our dragon flies can be quite ugly - but damsels seem always to be delightful.

    Thanks for your support throughout my Blogger trials, Diana.


  2. Those dragonflies are beautiful! I especially love the red! Chasing dragonflies for photos is one of my favorite activities!

  3. Yes, Yes, Yes I see the elephants eye...:-) Like a child always looking for the not expexted...

    I think I found you through Fairegarden today. I've been browsing into many new blogs today, have a migrain, and is very restless in my chair:-)

    Lovely to see you ungarden your garden and taking so many locely photos to share with us.

    Cheers from Stockholm, Sweden, Europe

  4. To the reader in Stockholm - I cannot read the Swedish, but you have the MOST enchanting bird calls on your blog. I'll go back, just to hear the birds singing. And shudder at the SNOW!

  5. I love to photograph dragonflies too. Have never seen a red one!

  6. We have a few red damselflies each year in the pond but so far I've never been able to photograph them - you must have alot of patience waiting to take these photos - or else you've got alot of dragonflies to choose from.

  7. Rosie - the Ungardener can claim the patience, with his new camera. And yes his pond does have a lot of flights. He sometimes feels called on for air traffic control. But when the Blue Emperor (dragonfly) takes off, all other flights are grounded, or they get eaten.

  8. I have never seen a red dragonfly, though I have always been fascinated with these delicate creatures. Thanks for the fantastic photos!

  9. Amazing shots. That small scarlet dragonfly takes my breath away, and the damselfly has to be viewed enlarged (highly recommended) to get a feel for that exquisite pale turquoise detail. Thank you for sharing a bit of your exotic (to me) local insect life today!

  10. Meredith - the enlarged damselfly has some weird technicoloured knobs, which aren't on the picture in the insect book. No idea what that is about?

  11. Those really are ridiculously good photographs. I am intimidated beyond belief!

  12. Diana, they are so beautiful! I love to see dragonflies in my garden. Can hardly wait for summer to arrive and I do hope they will show this year to. Last year we hade a few of them here / gittan

  13. Hi again after a while, Diana! I was once on holiday on the Limpopo with one of the photographers who contributed to this book. What an eye-opener that was to me! What fascinating creatures, and what a field of knowledge there is out there where I was aware only of 'a few goggos'. Thanks for the reminder to stop and stare. I am in particular need of that these days...


Photographs and Copyright

Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
My Canon PowerShot A490

If I use your images or information, it will be clearly acknowledged with either a link to the website, or details of the book. If you use my images or words, I expect you to acknowledge them in turn.

Midnight in Darkest Africa

Midnight in Darkest Africa
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