#PatchChat: Creatures of the Wood

A Common Darter from Late August.

A Common Darter from Late August.

On deciding to take my Border Collie for a ‘leg stretching session’, I had the urge to take my camera and photograph…everything!

The dragonfly photographed is (I believe) known as a Common Darter. If so, then I have recently learnt they are active between July and October near to ponds and stagnant water. This would account for them being in my local woodland, where there is a large pond teeming with different species of wildlife. However, I am no expert on dragonflies so please correct me if I have identified the above incorrectly.
On this late August day, I photographed various plant life, some Speckled Wood butterflies and had the usual failed attempts at capturing a grey squirrel.

Cobbles littered the dusty path made for walkers and their dogs; with everyone giving a cheery greeting as you went on your own separate adventures. Looking up, a few leaves can be spotted which are mottled with yellow, orange, red, whilst the majority are still thriving in shades of green; Autumn is coming.

Rustling in the branches to my left alerted me to the presence of a certain grey animal running around. I took out my camera and waited for the squirrel to appear. Click. Got it. Oh, never mind, just a dark blurry photo of seemingly nothing. Further along the path, I had my second chance. Camera at the ready. Click. Missed again due to the squirrel running off. Oh, bother! Wait, it’s back. Lifting the camera up silently, peering through the viewfinder into the dark trees, seeing the grey figure sat looking at me between the bracken. Click. Just the tail made an appearance that time. A final chance ensued later that walk, a fourth chance, this has to be the one. Camera angle set. Click. No! It ran off again. Huffing and puffing I walked on.

Unfortunately, I gave up (something you should never do when trying to get the perfect photo). Squirrels are too much for me, and more importantly my patience. With my little heart lower in my chest, I continued on, deciding to place my focus on the world beneath the tress rather than within them.

Scattered on the ground, were the smaller plants, just soaking up enough light to survive in this woodland. Luminous yellow flowers hiding conspicuously in amongst the thick blades of grass, swayed in a rhythm to the gentle breeze. The fern bushes didn’t escape the wind either, despite their best efforts of packing together for protection. It was here that a Speckled Wood butterfly circled down onto a fern in front of me and sat there, opening and closing its wings, presumably creating a current to any small bugs flying by, knocking them off course. A pair of butterflies joined the first and lifted it off the fern, swooping around, playing in the calm breath of the wind until they all momentarily rested upon a leaf and took flight up into the canopy of branches above.

Yet, whilst the butterflies mesmerised me with their dances around the flowers, and the squirrels teased me for my lack of speed with the camera, a certain creature was lurking round the next corner of the path, to give me some photos worth sharing.

I trundled round the bend, and as I did so, I called my dog to heal in order to prevent him running off in to the car park. At the same time, I happened to look at the wooden fence guarding the children’s play area from any canines. It was here that I noticed a cluster of dragonflies perching on the barricade. It was time for action.

Light dappled through the leaves.

Camera was poised and in position.


I shot a couple of photos with my feet rooted to the same spot, not daring to move in case I scared off my subjects. However, after briefly analysing my photos, I realised their quality just wouldn’t cut it. So, I took a step forwards…one dragonfly spooked…another step forwards…two dragonflies moved off…bending down and looking through the lens…a fourth left the field…I was right on top of the dragonfly…it stayed. Click.

I obtained about eight photos of good quality, but only one was of such good resolution that I felt it needed its story heard. I have recently found that all walks can be adventures, whether they are across the Australian Outback or following the river out the back of your town. If you have only a little enthusiasm, hope and, as far as grey squirrels are concerned, a bit more patience than I can currently account for, you can always have an adventure worth telling.

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