Dogs, Ducks, Damsels and Dragons

 At the end of May we were charged with dog-sitting duties while our daughter and family jetted off to New York for a short break. Belle is a very easy dog to look after - her needs are simple: food, walkies, play, and attention! After a morning walk and lunch, Belle likes nothing better than to relax in any one of her half-a-dozen favourite resting places.

Photo 1: Belle in relaxation mode

When Belle wants to play, she will find one of her squeaky toys that serve as a clarion call for playtime! 

Video 1: Belle playing fetch

Belle has no particular retrieving skills but seems to enjoy the chase: 

Video 2: Chasing Belle

Even after spending a week in our company catering to all her needs, the return of her mistress focuses all Belle's attention on the door through which her mistress will soon pass through!

Photo 2: Belle awaiting her mistress' return

One of Belle's favourite walks is along the Thames towpath. On one of these walks, we espied this duck and her eight ducklings ...

Photo 3: A family of ducks minus the father (drake)

Mallards and swans are ten to a penny* on the River Thames but this was clearly something else.

* choose any from two a penny, two to a penny, ten a penny, a dime a dozen 

Closer inspection ...

Photo 4: Female Mandarin Duck on River Thames

Photo 5: Female Mandarin Duck on River Thames

... revealed it to be a female Mandarin Duck. Female duck seems tautological to me, but this species is named Mandarin Duck so we have to differentiate between male and female. The male is much more striking in appearance and we, possibly, saw it a few days earlier on the same section of the river.

By way of an aside, there was a lone common tern amongst the ubiquitous seagulls that have taken up residence on Britain's inland rivers.

Photo 6: Common Tern on the River Thames

Photo 7: Common Tern on the River Thames

Reverting back to the alliterative title of this blog post, our visit coincided with the emergence of damselflies and dragonflies. We visited a number of watery places to see these flying masterpieces: Dinton Pastures, Ali's Pond Nature Reserve, and the Thames Valley Park Nature Reserve.

The identifications are down to me and are not guaranteed to be 100% correct. Lots of damselflies but relatively few dragonflies.

Photo 8: Banded Demoiselle and Common Blue Damselfly

Photo 9: Large Red Damselfly

Photo 10: Banded Demoiselle

Photo 11: Female Banded Demoiselle

Photo 12: Blue-tailed Damselfly

Photo 12: Banded Demoiselle

Photo 13: Large Red Damselfly

Photo 14: Male and Female Common Blue Damselflies

Photo 15: Broad-bodied Chaser (male)

Photo 16: Broad-Bodied Chaser (female)

Photo 17 is the same as Photo 16 with the brightness and contrast adjusted to show more detail.

Photo 17: Broad-Bodied Chaser (female) - enhanced


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