Fortuitously, whilst using my bins to identify a particular individual, my gaze alighted upon a dragonfly larva, tucked away amongst the reeds and ready to emerge as an adult dragonfly after two years underwater.
By the time I had deployed my camera, the action had started, the larval cuticle splitting behind the eyes and along the upper surface of the thorax.
|8.14am - the thorax bursts through the larval skin|
|8.15am - the head and eyes are withdrawn from the larval skin|
|8.16am - the thorax is now free of the larval skin|
|8.17am - the first few segments of the abdomen emerge|
|8.18am - as the adult hangs backwards, the compressed wings can now be seen|
|8.20am - the breathing tubes linking the adult's thoracic spiracles to openings in the larval skin are breaking|
|8.26am - a period of quiescence follows whilst the legs harden in the sun's warmth|
|8.36am - the adult springs forward and grasps the top of the larval skin|
|8.36am - the remainder of the abdomen is now withdrawn from the larval skin|
|8.36am - the pale, newly-emerged adult sits on the now empty larval skin or exuvia|
|8.40am - body fluid is pumped into the wing veins to expand the wings|
|8.42am - bigger...|
|8.48am - and bigger...|
|9.05am - and bigger...|
|9.12am - until they are fully inflated|
|9.27am - the fluid is now withdrawn from the wings and used to pump up the abdomen|
|9.42am - once the thoracic muscles are warm enough, the wings snap open for the first time|
|9.47am - wings and body harden in the heat of the day and the body starts to develop colour|
|9.53am - the wings are now starting to look capable of flight|
|10.01am - the adult dragonfly adjusts position and reveals the characteristic wing markings of a Four-spotted Chaser|
|10.10am - nearly two hours after emergence commenced, the adult dragonfly takes her maiden flight and moves to a safer position in full sun|
Another visit in mid afternoon added Broad-bodied Chaser to the total, making 9 species for the day. Odo-tastic!