For one reason or another, I have not managed to get out as much as I would have liked in the past few weeks but thankfully this weekend, I have managed a few hours at Nethergong where the Willow Emerald Damselfly season is nearly upon us. In other areas, this species is already flying but I normally see my first at Nethergong during the third week so I am hopeful that this coming week will see the first emerging here. To back this up, I have spent a few mornings dipping in various parts of the stream during Saturday and Sunday and have managed to find at least 50 Willow Emerald Damselfly nymphs. Many were fully grown and weather permitting, I hope be able to make an after work visit to see whether any have emerged yet. Dipping has also produced a few Migrant Hawker nymphs as well as Emperor Dragonfly nymphs, Emerald Damselfly nymphs and a fully grown Brown Hawker nymph. Walking around Nethergong has produced the odd Emerald Damselfly but numbers are still currently low. It was last weekend whilst checking the frog pond that I noticed a few Emperor Dragonfly exuviae on the reeds and as I continued searching, I soon become aware that quite a few Common Darters were emerging. Better still that continued searching provided me with my first few Migrant Hawker exuviae that I have managed to find at this site. This morning I was due to lead a wildlife walk around the site at 8am for 6 people when as I checked the pond, I noticed a Migrant Hawker was emerging about a metre from the bank. I only had a few minutes and the rain was starting but I was able to lay down on my belly and capture a few photos before leaving and meeting the clients. After meeting up and telling them of my find, they were keen to see there first dragonfly emerging so a few minutes later, I was able to show them this fascinating sight. To say they were happy was an understatement and we spent a while watching the emergence and I was able to get a few more photos. I was also able to show them emerging Common Darters and plenty of exuviae which they enjoyed before we moved on. I had earlier collected a few Willow Emerald Damselfly nymphs which they studied and this gave me the excuse to explain their lifecycle. After we had continued on walking we ended up back at the pond where once again, we watched the Migrant Hawker pumping up its wings and yet more photos were taken. I have yet to photograph this species emerging and this is the closest I have got so far but hopefully, my luck will change in the near future. A very successful tour of the site for the clients and nice to be able to share some dragonfly and damselfly knowledge with them. As mentioned earlier, Hopefully I can find my first Willow Emerald Damselflies next week or weekend along with hopefully a search for Southern Migrant Hawkers at Oare Marshes. Fingers crossed they return like last year.
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - male emerging