Last week we spent a few days up at Frank's family cottage. The weather wasn't terribly cooperative, offering just a few moments of sunshine here and there over the course of the week. We didn't have access to a boat so we were pretty much cottage and dock-bound for our full stay. That was just fine with us.
The overcast days didn't lend themselves to photographing colourful vistas, and since sunrises occur so early at this time of year, I wasn't anxious to get out of my cozy bed to attempt to capture the non-existent sunrise. What was left to photograph?
Last June, when we arrived at the lake, we were greeted by dozens of dragonflies which zigged and zagged their way around our heads, kindly reducing the mosquito population for us. This year, we might have arrived a week before that schedule. There were a few here and there, but it seemed that many of the dragonflies we saw were not in flight.
This is the empty skin of a nymph. In previous summers, mature dragonflies dropped their eggs into the lake where they grew and developed into nymphs. They stayed underwater from one to a few years, eating, growing and maturing until they were ready to climb out of the water and begin the process of becoming a dragonfly.
Here is a healthy dragonfly which has just emerged from, and abandoned its skin.
This one is resting on the dock while its wings unfold and dry off over the next hour or two.
This beauty recently emerged from its nymph state, and appears as if it is almost ready to fly. Its wings are still too wet to separate. See the water droplet suspended from its tip? It took a little over an hour until it flew off in search of food.
Here we have a sick or perhaps injured dragonfly. We didn't realize it at the time, but it soon became apparent that it was not recovering from its ordeal as it should. Its body was dry, but its wings remained stuck together, and we could see the droplets of water captured between them. Unlike others which we had observed, this one didn't appear to be able to separate and spread its wings. We wondered if they had not formed properly. Perhaps they were somehow fused together. Late in the day, this dragonfly had not progressed at all. Frank wondered if his fish filleting knife might have a thin and sharp enough blade to help separate the wings.
It seemed to help. With such a skilled touch, he should have been a surgeon.
A short while later its wings were open for the first time.
Climbing the rope a few hours later, it appeared to be just as unable to spread its wings as before the "surgery." We placed it so it would be more sheltered from impending rain and predators. In the morning it was in worse shape than before.
It seemed fairly obvious to us that it wasn't going to make it, so we figured that the best we could do for it was relocate it in a more natural setting and allow it to die a dignified dragonfly death. It clung to my finger allowing for an easy transport.
I zoomed in for a closer look.
We gently placed it on the end of a cut branch where it remained for the rest of the day.
It was unable to capture its own food, so we made a clumsy offering of a recently-swatted mosquito. You can see it over on the right side of the branch if you enlarge the photo. Shortly afterwards, the mosquito was gone and the dragonfly remained.
Later in the day, we learned that our dragonfly friend still had some fight left in it, when its safety was threatened by a determined caterpillar.
I learned that I could take a video while my camera was on the macro setting. Watch as our dragonfly friend displays its survival instinct as it fights off the caterpillar.
It won that fight, but we're not so sure it survived the night. In the morning, it was nowhere to be seen. It may have become a bird's meal. Had we checked more thoroughly, we may have found it lying somewhere below its previous perch. Or, perhaps it gained some strength overnight, managed to spread its wings and fly. Neither of us really believe that but we'd like to.
In a few days I'll post some random photos taken at the cottage. There won't be a dragonfly among them.