The Early Riser
For the more enthusiastic of dragonfly hunters, early mornings can provide an opportunity for some rare sightings. If you are happy to rise at 4.30 on a clear summer morning, to wander about in the mud in the early daylight hours, you may be fortunate enough to spot an emerging dragonfly. The whole process of emergence can take up to 45 mins, but it is all about being in the right place at the right time.
If you are unsure where to spot an emerging dragonfly, take a look at the reeds, twigs and grasses by the water's edge during the day time for exuviae (the shed larval skin), this may well be a good spot to check out at first light the following day. Take a good pair of waders with you, as you will more than likely need to venture into the bog or water, but please be very careful!. I cannot stress enough the hazards of exploring deep into a bog in the early hours of the morning when nobody is about to hear you cry for help.
Aside from spotting the occasional emergence, early mornings present another significant advantage. As the air temperature is yet to rise, and dew covers most foliage, dragonflies and damselflies will be unable to fly. Until they can stretch their wings in the early sunlight they do not have the capacity to move anywhere and as such are ideal for photographing. Now before you go running away with the idea of this ‘duck shoot’ approach to dragonfly photography, you need to consider a few things:
Firstly, mother nature is not daft enough to let insects sit as easy prey for early riser birds, and as such, dragonflies tend to go to bed in the most inaccessible of places. This will usually be beneath leaves, within dense foliage and high within the tree canopy.
The second disadvantage, is that when (or if) you find a dragonfly at this time it is unlikely to warmed to its full daytime colouration, and may be so dew coated that it does not make a particularly striking photograph. Be prepared for a very early start, and many disappointments; however, the site of a single emergence will make it all worth while.