A tough lady

For dragonfly photographers the winter is the time to work on websites, sort their picture database, read up on the biology of the insects and make plans for and look forward to the next season. To be short, its quite a boring season and we all hope for it to be over soon.

Unless… you go after the winterdamsels. There are two species of winterdamsels in the Netherlands, damselflies that winter as adults. Last February I joined René Manger in search for the rarest of the two, the Siberian Winter Damsel and we managed to find one!

Siberian Winter Damsel - Noordse Winterjuffer - Sympecma paedisc
Winter Damsels often try to hide behind a straw


Completely hidden in a tussock of Purple Moor-grass and I’m sure I would have never found one on my own. After this first time, I returned to the place several times and saw these small hardened insects every time. But those times were always when it was warmer and they were flying.

Today I returned, knowing that they wouldn’t be flying around. I checked many tussocks, and after a while I managed my first real wintering winterdamsel! Taking good pictures was hard as well, as she had straws all around her but I managed to get a few nice ones. As the winter is hard enough for them, I didn’t want to disturb her too much. The best pictures of this species you’ll make when they are flying, as they will sit higher on the straws, but finding and photographing them in winter is always something really special. As it wasn’t very cold today there was some movement. The sun was shining, so she moved up a little, to warm up a bit and when she saw me, she turned away from me, to hide behind her straw. When I didn’t move, she would turn back, to enjoy her sun again after a while.

After I spent some time with her, I continued my search for more, but I didn’t manage to find any. Now lets wait for some snow, that would make even better pictures.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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