Bird's Eye View of Bute


Golden Ringed
Golden Ringed
Common Hawker
Common Hawker



Golden Ringed Dragonfly

Spot the Dragonfly, is this weeks game. It is easy in colour but may be quite hard in black and white.

This one is a Golden-Ringed Dragonfly and can be found flying all-over Bute from June till August. They are mostly found near water but they are also to be found over the over the hills like the one in my photo. This one was flying from around a large tree, darting back and forth at great speed looking for food which they catch on the wing. On a hot summers day they are very fast and do not stop very often, but on duller cooler days the are a bit sluggish and rest more, so that may be your best time to see one close up. This is the largest of them all, 78mm, 3ins with two pairs of clear wings to propel them through the air at speed. In flight they remind me of a helicopter, with the bulbus head an long slim body, all that is missing is the tail rotor. They are quite plentiful so you should not have to wait too long before sighting one. Then again the right time and the right place comes into force! I waited for a long while to get this close for a photo. There is no favourite place to see them, but as they lay their eggs in the silt and sediment in rivers and streams, that is the best area to look for them. Their eggs go through a aquatic nymph stage before emerging as dragonflies, so you could be lucky to see one emerge.

Norrie Mulholland
First published in the Buteman 2002

Common Hawker

Most of the times that I am looking for a good photo of a bird , insect, mammal or butterfly etc, I have to work hard to get what I am looking for, and yet there are times when the perfect specimen appears and settles down and waits until you have got all the photo's that you want, and this weeks Dragonfly ,did just that. This was a very good day for me, as I had never seen this species before.


I was out with my partner and her son, and we had parked the cars at the Kingarth and Kilchattan Bay War Memorial, and headed for a walk doing the 'Drumreoch' circuit, which takes you past ,what used to be a farm of that name, now a steading for cattle and fodder, then, carried on to another path which takes you to 'Lord James' Ride', then you end up on the 'Scoulag Moor Road', turn right, and back to the cars. I had been taking photo's of butterflies, and anything else that moved, and had a good day in amateur photographer terms. My camera had just been put in the car boot, when this delightful flying insect passed us by, and I thought that was it, no luck here for a photo, but lady luck was with me as it had landed and seemed perfectly happy to hang around for a while.
Well! my camera was back in my hands at high speed,and I proceeded to the fence post that it had alighted on. Moving very slowly, taking photos all the time, trying to keep the camera steady with my shaking arms, and got what you see now, an excellent image of a 'Common Hawker' Dragonfly. I say common, but I am only 99% sure that it is the 'Common' one as there are a few others that fit the bill, and they are all very alike, but as they are not seen very often, I don't foresee a problem in my identification.
It had a black body with twin blue and yellow spots, with the blue ones being much larger. It was about 70 millimetres long, ( 2¾ Inches) with clear double wings which give them fantastic manoeuvrability. All in all, a fantastic flying insect. I have sat and watched other species fly round and round their territory looking for food on the wing, and going at high speed in one direction, then about turn and go in the other direction without even slowing down.
They are all originally from the tropics, but over the many years, many species have moved north and bred, giving us a bit of high speed chasing, a bit of colour, and a topic of conversation.

Norrie Mulholland.

First published in the Buteman in 2007


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