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Workshops

Dragonfly Workshops

As per normal these workshops are available as 1- 1’s and 2-1’s plus at least one group workshop and they all take place in early July. The group workshops are run in conjunction with the butterfly group workshops and consequently are held on consecutive weekdays. I do this for several reasons. One is that most butterfly photographers enjoy photographing dragonflies and vice versa and the equipment required to do both subjects is very similar. However the main one is economics. Because the two locations are very close, approximately 20 miles apart on the Surrey/Sussex borders it helps those clients that want to do both subjects but especially those that have to travel long distances. These clients only need to book one nights accommodation to do both workshops and what they save on their fuel costs obviously goes some way to mitigate their accommodation costs.

Part of the Bog & Surrounding Heathland

Part of the Bog and the surrounding Heathland.

This workshop takes place on a fantastic heathland bog that has more species of Odonata breeding than any other location in the UK. Twenty-six species have been recorded breeding here including the Emperor Dragonfly. However, like butterflies they have their specific flight periods and not surprisingly my workshop is timed to coincide with the majority of them.

Four_spotted_Chaser

A Four-spotted Chaser on the look-out.

These are very active and aggressive dragonflies that set up territories that they then vigorously defend. The males will have favourite perches that they use to spot females and they return to that perch time and time again like this one. Often they are out in abundance and provide easy pickings for the hobbies and their young in the nests close by.

Black_Darter

Freshly emerged Black Darter

Really thrilled to capture this rare image in 2016 thanks to 1-1 client and good friend Tony Stevens who spotted it as we searched for subjects in the middle of the bog. This is the final stage of emergence when the wings are pumped up by blood under pressure until they reach their full size. It will not be long before this new pristine Black Darter takes off on its’ maiden flight.

Broad-bodied Chaser

Broad-bodied Chaser

Now I have put this super dragonfly in that was actually taken in my garden although it does occur at the workshop site. I wanted a shot to demonstrate that sometimes you will need a lens longer than your normal macro that you use for your butterflies. For this shot I used my 500mm plus a 1.4 converter increasing the focal length to 700mm. I used an ISO of 200, aperture 5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec. The point I want to make is that you can take images with long telephoto lenses that replicate the sharpness of your 100mm macro. I will show you exactly how on this workshop.

Banded_Demoiselle_Female_on_Water_Mint

Banded Demoiselle, female

There is a small stream that runs into the bog and it holds the beautiful banded demoiselles. This species of damselfly prefers running water to still water and so it is quite rare to see one out on the bog. It is doubly attractive if you get one perched on an attractive plant like this water mint.

Now obviously this course is specifically aimed at dragonflies and damselflies but, having said that, at this great location there is so much more for the keen wildlife photographer. So to whet your appetite here are a few other subjects found here. There will be some heathland species of butterflies around such as the beautiful Silver-studded Blue and Grayling and there will be the possibility of seeing the caterpillars of the large day flying Emperor Moth.

Hobby

Hobby

Southern_Marsh_Orchid

Southern Marsh Orchid

Mallard Family

Mallard Family

There may still be some Southern Marsh Orchids out if we are lucky, including an albino form (we got them last year). Also last year client Peter Blood and I arrived early and found a Mallard family among the bog cotton and asphodels for a nice bonus image. Those with good eyes may also spot the Raft Spider, one of Britain's largest spiders with a leg span of 2.8" (70mm). If that isn't enough, Hobbies breed at this location and should be out catching the dragonflies to feed themselves and their young.

Common_Lizard

Common Lizard

Raft Spider

Raft Spider

Close to the bog there is a large pond where grass snakes are often seen and can often be photographed swimming across it. Talking of reptiles, Common Lizards, as their name suggests, can be seen everywhere and are particularly tame. On last years’ workshop I did manage to catch this superb female adder right in the middle of the wet bog. It was a real surprise to come across one there and a great bonus on the day for all the participants. If you are keen there are plenty more out on the surrounding heathland should you decide to go looking.

Adder Female close to sloughing

Adder

Grass_Snake

Grass Snake

This and the butterfly workshops are both very popular workshops so I advise you to book as soon as possible especially with the group workshops as both are invariably oversubscribed once the dates are announced in my newsletter.

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