Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Celebrating the Willow Emerald Damselflies Success

This year I have spent more time studying and photographing the Willow Emerald Damselfly than any other species, and with some very interesting results. I am very lucky that I am able to visit Nethergong Campsite which hosts a good population of this damselfly and after a bit of searching around early on in the season for likely areas for them, I was able to witness most of the lifecycle of the Willow Emerald Damselfly. I spent a lot of hours searching for them emerging in August and soon found a good stretch of stream where I started to find exuviae and it wasn't long until further searching provided me with emerging Willow Emerald Damselflies.

'Newly Emerged' Willow Emerald Damselfly (female)

It was quite notable that even when I started searching very early in the morning for them that a number must have emerged earlier in the dark with a good number seen sitting low down in the reeds. They continued to emerge from early to mid morning and provided me with countless hours of photography.

Willow Emerald Damselfly (male) 

Willow Emerald Damselfly (female) 

Willow Emerald Damselfly (male)

I set about trying to collect a nymph so I could photograph this in my indoor tank and after a few dips into the weed with a net, I duly caught one which was taken home to photograph and study with some pleasing results.

Willow Emerald Damselfly Nymph

Better was to come as it looked likely that it would emerge and after putting a few sticks into the tank, I went out late evening to see that it was already in position to emerge. I spent the next few hours watching and photographing the emergence from start to finish and still marvel at this miracle of nature.

'Emerging' Willow Emerald Damselfly

After it had fully emerged the next morning, I duly returned the damselfly back to Nethergong to continue its life. I continued monitoring the site and probably had in excess of 150 individuals that emerged from a stretch of stream c100 yards in length. 

Willow Emerald Damselfly (female)

What did myth me however was the lack of Willow or other trees on this stretch of stream and it was my curiosity that led me to discover a British first. Whilst watching the damselflies mid afternoon one day, I started seeing tandem pairs arriving at the stream where they would land on stinging nettle stems, some overhanging the water. I soon saw that this was no accident as they started to oviposit into the stems themselves. I continued to witness this behaviour over a period of weeks and saw quite a few pairs acting in the same manner. It was indeed very rewarding after hours of observations that I may have found some new behaviour for this species. As the season progressed, they started to disperse into others areas of the campsite while other pairs were seen in tandem ovipositing into the traditional willow trees over water.

Willow Emerald Damselfly 

I shall monitor these over the winter and perhaps next year, even attempt to photograph the small nymphs not long after they have emerged. It looks good for the future so far with the Willow Emerald Damselfly at this site and its good to hear that they are continuing to spread north and westwards in this country. They have given me many hours of pleasure this year and an education into their lives, no doubt there is a lot more to be learnt and appreciated about this stunning damselfly. 

Willow Emerald Damselfly (female)

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The 'Autumn' Damselfly

With a few hours available over the weekend which coincided with some sunny weather, I made a visit to Nethergong where I wanted to check out whether the Willow Emerald Damselflies were still on the wing. After arriving, I made my way to the area concerned where on the way, I noted a few Common Darter flying and 2 Migrant Hawker. I started walking along the edge of the stream and checking the bare branches on the trees and I managed to see c10 Willow Emerald Damselflies. I expect that a good search of other areas would produce a few more but I was happy to just spend some time in the sun photographing this damselfly with some nice autumnal leaves.

Willow Emerald Damselfly (male)

Anyone following my stories of the Willow Emerald Damselfly would have read that recently, I found them ovipositing into stinging nettle stems, a potential UK first. I spent some more time over the weekend watching two pairs ovipositing into the nettle stems for up to 45 minutes and had excellent views through the binoculars. I did try for a few more photos which I will post in due coarse but as they are on the far side of the stream, getting detailed shots is quite a challenge but observing what I did, I now an at least convinced that they were indeed ovipositing into the stems and this could well be new behaviour observed. I have also just finished writing an article for 'Atropos' magazine on my observations and more good news came when I received my copy of 'The Journal of the British Dragonfly Society' which had used a number of my photos in the magazine of the Willow Emerald Damselfly as well as the front cover shot. Hopefully this species will continue to expand it range locally and nationally so that others can see see and appreciate this lovely damselfly.

Journal of the British Dragonfly Society

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Kent Dragonflies 2017 Calendars

The calendars have arrived and look good. If you would like to purchase a calendar, please click on the '2017 Calendar' link at the top of the page where you will be directed to Paypal. 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Kent Dragonflies 2017 Calendar

Throughout the course of the year, I have had a number of people commenting to me that I should do more with the photos of dragonflies and damselflies that I have taken in the past few years. One of the ideas suggested to me a number of times was a calendar so with this in mind, I have decided to produce my first calendar which will hopefully showcase some of the photos I have taken of Kent Dragonflies. Below are a few sample photos from this A4 landscape calendar.

I initially have 10 for sale and the price is £12 including postage and packing. If you would like to buy one, you can buy and pay via the '2017 Calendar' link at the top of the page through Paypal.