The huge emperor dragonflies that dart over the countryside at this time of year are a common sight, but getting the chance to see one emerge from the nymph is a rare privilege.
Yet Katherine Puttick, an RSPB warden at Suffolk’s Lakenheath Fen, managed to capture this process on camera over a marathon four hours.
Her pictures start after the nymph or larvae has crawled up a plant stem from the water it has spent the last two years in.
The images then show the dragonfly with its head and legs peeling out of the larval case.
Once the legs have hardened, it does an impressive sit-up manoeuvre and flicks the rest of its abdomen out of the larval case. After pumping fluid into its wings it will sit a while longer before taking its maiden flight.
Katherine said: “Many people love the sight of these beautiful insects but may have never seen this emerging process before.
“It caught the attention of lots of excited visitors and it’s great to have been able to capture it on camera so that others can witness it too.”
To enable people to get even closer to the incredible dragonfly action at different locations throughout the reserve, dragonfly enthusiast Ruary Mackenzie-Dodds suggested introducing a brand new dragonfly watching platform. It is currently in the process of being built, with other dragonfly additions being floating logs and windows into ditches.
To find an RSPB reserve near you visit www.rspb.org.uk/reserves