At the mid section of Reffley reservoir, we paused to look for dragonflies. As the weather was cooler and cloudier and with a moderate breeze this afternoon, I thought I might be lucky enough to spot one or two perched dragonflies, or, at least, ones which were not quite so “super-charged” as they had been earlier in the week. However, there did not seem to be any big dragons about at all! In fact, there seemed to be very few signs of life around the water, but then, when I’d got my eye in, I started to see tiny blue needles floating very close to the water and vegetation thereon.
I wondered if I’d spotted a red-eyed damselfly resting on the pad of a yellow lily. It was quite hard to tell, even with binoculars, so I aimed my camera in its direction in the hope I could get a good enough shot for identification purposes. Luckily, some of the pictures were clear enough to show the detail, and I believe I have discovered not red-eyed, but small red-eyed damselflies at the reservoir. One of the differences betwwen the two is the amount of blue at the end of the abdomen – the small red-eyed has an extra blob of blue on the underside of segment eight. These creatures are a first for me at this site, but, according to the British Dragonfly Society website, were recorded here last July.
I think I saw several of these small red-eyed damselflies, including some in pairs egg-laying over the edges of the yellow lily pads and amongst other part submerged vegetation.
The small red-eyed seems to be a species which is doing well and expanding its range, possibly due to climate warming. My “Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain and Ireland”, by Steve Brooks and Richard Lewington, and published by British Wildlife Publishing ( 2010 edition) states it was first discovered, relatively recently, in Essex in July 1999. By the following year, it was found at more sites in Essex, as well as at some on the Isle of Wight. Following the arrival of large numbers from the Continent in 2001, it spread to sites along the coast of south-east England up to north Norfolk. By 2009, it had got as far as Devon and Yorkshire.
I had a couple of brief sightings of a larger dragonfly during my visit. Twice, a browny coloured insect with golden hued wings flew quite low across the water-way. I wondered if this was the type I had seen on Monday morning, when the weather had been quite a bit hotter and the sun had shone almost full-time. At that stage, the brown dragonfly had been zooming up and down several feet above the water, It had changed direction frequently, slowed down a little, speeded up, even flown over my head while I’d been watching from the side, meaning it had been virtually impossible to photograph. All I had managed to get were a couple of very blurred images. There had been two of these creatures, at least, on Monday, because two or three times I had seen them meet in the centre of this part of the reservoir and skirmish with one another in the air. I think they were probably brown hawkers, but cannot be sure and so had decided upon a quest to get more evidence!
I think I may also have seen common blue damselflies flying over the water and perching on vegetation on Thursday afternoon.
Gatekeeper, meadow brown and skipper butterflies were also encountered, as were a coupled pair of small white butterflies. There seem to be good numbers of skippers here this season. I succeeded in getting a few pleasing pictures of bees and hoverflies around the colourful thistles.