Odonata notes.

Normally, the most numerous damselfly along the Macalister River at Bellbird Corner Reserve is the Common Flatwing, Austroargiolestes icteromelas, and when cutting the river walking track they usually fly up in front of the mower in abundance. For some reason this season has been different, there has been no flood to disrupt their life cycle, but I’ve been seeing very few. Similarly, some other species of Odonata usually seen in numbers are also sparse, although that could be due to the fact that the neighbouring billabongs are dry. Two of the less common species of damselfly found in the reserve are the Orange Threadtail, Nososticta solida, and the Bronze Needle, Synlestes weyersii. The former is generally found by the river bend at the picnic area, and the latter seemed to be restricted to a short stretch of the Newry Creek. When checking the reserve for a possible grass cut I made the usual visit to the river at the bend, and was pleasantly surprised to find good numbers of both species inhabiting the riverside herbage, with Bronze Needles also out on snags mid stream. I had the camera with 100 macro lens with me, but found the needles very hard to approach, although the threadtails were much more cooperative.

orange threadtail

Over the next two days I made visits with the 200 macro and managed to get more acceptable pictures of the needles, this male changed perches several times before it finally allowed me to photograph it.

bronze needle

Females were still difficult though, preferring to perch out over the water.



This male also kept its distance and seems to be keeping a close watch on me.


The Bronze Needle, like the Common Flatwing, generally perches with its wings spread, unlike most damselflies that keep them closed. They also hold them at odd angles, eg. the second female above, making it hard to get photographs with the wings in sharp focus. Cropped shots of a male and a female however were worth while for details of the colourful thorax.

bronze needle

bronze needle

While moving back and forth along the bank I had been seeing a male Common Bluetail, Ischnura heterosticta, but it was too good for me. Females in this species can be green or brown instead of blue, and a brown individual did perch for me. The diagnostic post ocular spots are visible.

common bluetail

The odd Common Flatwing was also present and I got lucky with this pair in tandem.

common flatwings

A reddish species of robber fly was very numerous and easier to approach and photograph.

robber fly

The Australian Emerald, Hemicordulia australiae is normally found in the reserve, but this individual was photographed in the garden. The black pterostigma and smaller yellow tail patch separate it from the similar and more common Tau Emerald.

australian emerald

While down beside the river I heard a squalling noise, and looked across to see a Sacred Kingfisher. I took a quick shot with the 200, and although the range was far too great it did a good job, showing the skink that was fed to the calling young a moment later. The first shot shows the nest tunnel, arrowed, high on the eroded bank.


sacred kinfisher

Click to enlarge.

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