Last Summer I introduced myself to the amazing world of dragonflies and damselflies in the Canberra region. Prior to that I’d taken opportunistic photos of some fairly spectacular dragonflies (see for example earlier posts on Cape Dragonflies and Top end Dragonflies), but this was a concerted and systematic effort to try to find out what was present in the various watery habitats of the ACT.
|A teneral (recently emerged immature) female Slender Ringtail Austrolestes analis, 24 Oct 2015.|
|Male Powdered Flatwing Austroargiolestes calcaris, Orroral Valley, ACT, 8 Nov 2015.|
|Adult male Blue Ringtail Austrolestes annulosus, Australian National Arboretum, 9 Nov 2015.|
|A tandem pair of Red & Blue Damsels Xanthagrion erythroneurum, 9 Nov 2015.|
Three weeks later when I returned, on the afternoon of 9 November, the numbers of damselfies had increased greatly and I estimated a total of at least 300 Blue Ringtails and probably about 60 Red & Blue Damsels, just at that end of the pond. The large number of teneral (immature newly emerged adults) Blue Ringtails I saw in the clumps of rushes and tall grasses bordering the pond indicated the population is still on the increase. The emperor and emeralds were still there, and I also picked up a handful of fairly newly emerged Common Bluetails.
|A teneral female Blue Ringtail.|
The following photos attempt to convey a sense of the intense activity at the pond.
Perching spots were at such a premium that the different species even tolerated each other briefly.
|Blue Ringtail and Red & Blue Damsel sharing a perch.|
Pairing up was a clear priority...
The protagonists of this newly established pair were a little awkward and had some trouble knowing just how to get it on, but eventually figured it out.
|Nuh-uh - wrong!|
|Let's try that again...|
|Ahh - yes, that feels right!|
There was a lot of competition involved, leading to some pretty debauched behaviour. This male tried his luck with a female who was already paired up...
...and this one even tried it on with a hapless female who was all but dead and was floating on the water!
There were swarms of ovipositing tandem pairs of both Blue Ringtails and Red & Blue Damsels - presumably there were suitable water plants and twigs just below the surface that provided prime egg laying sites.
Both Blue Ringtails and Red & Blue Damsels are species which will totally submerge when laying eggs, the female dragging the male below the surface as she works her way deeper and deeper down a submerged plant or twig.
|Two pairs of ovipositing Blue Ringtails. The lower pair is completely submerged; the upper pair is still working its way down the substrate, while another male flies past.|
But not all had a successful or happy ending!