With the weather still very hot the past few days in east Kent, I have had a few visits to Nethergong at various parts of the day to monitor the Willow Emerald Damselflies. When they first emerged, they could be found roosting in the grasses next to the stream but as they have matured, my early morning walks through the grass have hardly revealed any Willow Emerald Damselflies. A few walks around midday in the heat of the day have seen mostly all the females perched up in the trees with a few quite in the shade at times where as the males have often been found on the edge of the reeds waiting presumably for a females to pass. Its not been until after 1pm that I have really seen many in tandem and as the afternoon has progressed, many pairs can be seen returning to the stream where they tend to rest up in the reeds before they then fly to the stinging nettle patches to oviposit. I first noticed this last week and having never witnessed this before, tried to get a few shots but unfortunately, they were on the other side of the stream but with the help of the f4 300mm lens and a 1.4 converter, I was able to grab a few 'record' shots to show this in action.
Willow Emerald Damselfly ovipositing into Stinging Nettle Stems (a UK first?)
I researched later that day and found no evidence of them ovipositing on stinging nettle stems, a few other alternatives were found but no mention anywhere of nettle stems. I decided to contact the British Dragonfly Society who put me on to Adrain Parr, a great authority on dragonflies and damselflies in the UK who emailed me back. Part of his email response is mentioned below:
"A very interesting observation! I've certainly not heard of Willow Emeralds ovipositing into nettles in the UK, and a quick search didn't reveal anything elsewhere, either. I've attached a short note about egg-laying sites used in Germany (unfortunately in German!), and nothing even remotely similar is mentioned".
So it looks likely that I have indeed found a British first with Willow Emerald Damselflies ovipositing into stinging nettle stems. I have continued to monitor them and have seen them continuing to do this along the stream. Many other questions now rise from this observation which I will try to answer through continuing to monitor but after all the hours put in with this species, I feel a tad proud that I have probably added something new to the knowledge of the Willow Emerald Damselfly.
I spent a few hours at Nethergong this morning where I only found c15 Willow Emerald Damselfly but did find a few c400 yards away from where I have been seeing them. I assume like last year that they have dispersed to other parts of the campsite where there are more streams. There were a few other dragonflies seen including 3 Southern Hawker, 1 Brown Hawker and a pair of what I suspect many have been Small Red eyed Damselfly. Unfortunately they moved to quick and was lost to view. This would be a new species for Nethergong so another excuse to return soon to have a look. Hopefully, weather permitting, a visit over the weekend if I can get out at all.
Willow Emerald Damselfly (female)