The start to the damselfly and dragonfly season for me was a little slow. Six visits to four favoured locations between 24th April and 9th May yielded absolutely nothing in the way of Odonata. We then had an unseasonably extremely cold wet spell which further delayed emergence, and this was the situation until we departed for our visit to the Outer Hebrides. On our return I was, therefore, disappointed (and, at the same time, excited!) to find two damselfly exuviae in our mini-pond which was only set up last year. I have yet to attempt to ID these exuviae, and two others (the emergence of which I subsequntly missed!) due to too much to do to catch up after our return.
I'm pleased to say, however, that I did find time to get out for several short visits in order to check on the local Odonata situation, and with some success, although the photography side of things was far from satisfactory, due to the focus function of my camera set-up not working properly. I have two identical camera bodies, the first of which developed a problem early on in the Covid pandemic, which gave me issues with having it serviced. Now that the second one is misbehaving, I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get something done about it !
So here is a brief account of those visits:-
Monday, 31st May Saltersford Vally CP
It being the spring bank holiday, I felt it necessary to visit somewhere where there was a good chance that there would not be too many people around. Saltersford Valley CP was closed to the public (and still was at last count), but I have permission to visit in order to survey for Odonata.
By far the most numerous species found was Azure Damselfly, which I did not specifically count but conservatively estimated at 21-100 specimens (a bracket that is in accordance with County Recorder instructions), with four pairs being counted.
|Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) (male) - Saltersford Valley CP|
|Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) (female f. violacea) - Saltersford Valley CP|
|Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) (immature male) - Saltersford Valley CP|
|Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) (male+female) - Saltersford Valley CP|
|Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) (male) - Saltersford Valley CP|
I saw just two Banded Demoiselle - both male.
|Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) (male) - Saltersford Valley CP|
A Great Crested Grebe was near the nest (now empty) that featured in my previous blog post, but unfortunately directly into the light so its full glory was not captured.
|Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) - Saltersford Valley CP|
|Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) - Saltersford Valley CP|
|Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus) - Saltersford Valley CP|
Tuesday, 1st June Heather Lake
The next day, I headed off to another nearby favourite site - Heather Lake. Here I found a somewhat different situation, with the area being dominated by Common Blue Damselfly. These were impossible to count but I logged numbers as '101-500' including '6-20' pairs, although I suspect that numbers probably exceeded both these brackets.
|Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (teneral male) - Heather Lake|
Incidental to the visit
There was much white 'fluff' around and this turned out to be debris from the seed heads of a tree. Trees is a subject I know virtually nothing about so I cannot comment on the ID of this one. With thanks to 'Conehead54', I now believe that these are the seadheads of a Salix sp.
|Salix sp. seed heads - Heather Lake|
The new area of Sence Valley Forest Park contains a number of fenced-off newly planted areas, one of which I have kindly been offered access to by Forestry England in order to record the Odonata in the newly created ponds it contains.
I had a short visit there on this day, but it turned out to be a rewarding one, giving me my first dragonfly sightings of the year.
Immediately apparent were two male Broad-bodied Chasers which seemed to be having a squabble over territorial rights. During my visit, I noted five of this species, including two females ovipositing directly into the water as is normal for this species. However, my camera problems wouldn't let me record this. One of the males was just heading into maturity.
|Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) (immature male) - Sence Valley FP (new area)|
|Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) (male) - Sence Valley FP (new area)|
I then noted what, at first distant sighting, could have been a female or immature Broad-bodied Chaser, a Four-spotted Chaser, or even a female or immature Black-tailed Skimmer. It was soon identified as a male Four-spotted Chaser, with the four spots confirming the species (together with the dark wing base) and the anal appendages confirming the sex. In total, I noted four of this species - all male.
|Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) (male) - Sence Valley FP (new area)|
|Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) (teneral male?) - Sence Valley FP (new area)|
|Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (female) - Sence Valley FP (new area)|
|Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) (female f. violacea) - Sence Valley FP (new area)|
|Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) (male) - Sence Valley FP (new area)|
|Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) (male) - Sence Valley FP, River Sence|
|? - Sence Valley FP (new area)|
There were disappointingly few butterflies around, but I was pleased to sea a Common Blue.
|Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) (male) - Sence Valley FP|
|Red-and-black Froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata) - Sence Valley FP|
|Tetragnatha sp. - Sence Valley FP (new area)|
|probable ladybird eggs? - Sence Valley FP (new area)|
This brings me to the end of this post. I shall now start working on a post to cover the first part of our May visit to the Outer Hebrides - it may take some time!
Thank you for dropping by. Take great care - - - Richard