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)

16 comments:

  1. Nice post Marc. I see your recording efforts get a mention in the ''British Wildlife'' Magazine again :-)

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    1. Thanks Warren. I am unaware of this..... tell me more?

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  2. Multiply the hours of pleasure they have given you by all the readers of your blog and the hours we have spent pouring over your photos and words! You have amassed an astounding body of artistic and scientific work.

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    1. Many thanks Wilma. It's visits like yourself that spurs me on to get out there and get the photos.

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  3. Hi Marc, two words pleasure and inspiration,your dedication and hard work in capturing crisp sharp images are outstanding,we can't wait for next year, to see more of your brilliant photography.
    John and Sue.

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    1. Many thanks for your kind words, much appreciated. There is always so much to still learn and it's nice to be able to add my little bit if I can.

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  4. Stunning observations Marc. It is so rewarding spending time with one species. Not before time I saw my first Willows this year but only small numbers so far.

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    1. Many thanks Bob, much appreciated. It's certainly an interesting species and hopefully they will continue to spread successfully.

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  5. Hi Mark,
    What an interesting approach.
    You are really passionate enough to study odonata species up close with a minimum of impact and interference and you've come up with a new behaviour. This should interest seriously the specialists.
    Sincere congratulations :)
    Thanks for visiting my lapwings!!

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    1. Many thanks Noushka for your kind words. It's been brilliant to be able to put the time in with this species with some excellent results. Still quite a rarity in this country but slowly spreading.

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  6. Fantastic collection Marc, those that were close ups, were tantalising. Brilliant photos.

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    1. Many thanks Bob, much appreciated.

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  7. I can't imagine a more beautiful and inspring post than this one, Marc. You've captured the essence of this fabulous damselfly with absolute perfection! Thank you for sharing your wonderful images, and your educational observations with us.

    It's a species I've yet to encounter, but maybe next year?

    Best wishes and congratulations - - Richard

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    1. Many thanks Richard for your kind words, appreciated. You will have to come down to Kent next year and I will show you them.

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    2. Thank you, Marc. I'd love to take you up on that offer.

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