I spent a few hours this morning at Grove Ferry where the plan was to have a dipping session with the net to see what species I could find. As well as dipping in a few areas I have been before, I also wanted to venture to other ditches and dykes to see what they held and help build up a picture of what species are occurring and where. I always get quite excited when netting as you never quite know what you are going to get. Sometimes its nothing and then, all of a sudden, you can catch a few species. One of my targets this year is to try and find and photograph a Small Red Eyed Damselfly nymph and also to collect an exuviae of this species for my collection. My first stop this morning was an area where last year, hundreds of this species could be seen flying and so I spent a while in this area dipping.
Grove Ferry Ditch
I managed to find a dozen or so damselfly nymphs but despite checking them with the Opticron 10X hand lens, I wasn't convinced that any of them were the species I was looking for. Looking at photos of this nymph, they can be tricky to identify but I expect I am really early in the year to be finding them of a good size. I will keep monitoring the site and with a bit of luck and perseverance, maybe I will find my target in the coming months. Moving on to a few new areas where I have not netted before, It was interesting in the next hour to net 2 Emperor Dragonfly nymphs, 1 pretty much fully grown, 3 Hairy Dragonfly nymphs and 4 Norfolk Hawker nymphs.
Grove Ferry Ditch
Emperor, Hairy Dragonfly and Damselfly Nymphs
I quickly used the hand lens to check the length of the cerci to confirm the identification before returning them back to the water. I also managed to catch what I believed to be a couple of small Migrant Hawker nymphs. Most literature suggests they do not hatch until the spring and then grow rapidly to emerge a few months later. They certainly seemed to have shorter cerci when checked but I didn't check the shape of the mask which would have confirmed to me whether they were either Migrant Hawker or Norfolk Hawker. That gives me another excuse to make another visit soon to see whether I can answer todays unanswered question. A pleasant couple of hours indeed spent seeing how the local species are fairing throughout the winter months.
A Few Hours Work