This past week, I have been trying to carry out the dragonfly challenge, organised this year for the first time by the British Dragonfly Society.
I went to the local reservoir to carry out the mission, which is similar to the long running Big Butterfly Count, although doesn’t require you to spot dragons in a set time.
This is just as well as I actually went twice in my quest to find out what species were at the reservoir! I found on Monday’s visit that brown hawkers and common darters were present, but I couldn’t decide which species of tiny blue needles of damselflies were flitting about over the detritus at water level.
The brown hawkers were relatively easy to recognise as I could see their amber tinted wings. I saw one flying high over the water, sometimes dropping down lower and sometimes hovering. A second one came into view and then they rose up towards each other and a certain amount of sparring went on before they separated and flew in different directions.
The common darter perched on a plant stem near the bank and remained there for some time with its wings swept forward in a characteristic pose.
I returned the next day, which again was warm and sunny, with my camera and a 300mm zoom lens which helped a bit. I photographed a small red-eyed damselfly and I think a common blue damselfly. However, I was disappointed with my pictures – it was such bright sunlight and the glare from the water also made it difficult.
While sitting at the side of the reservoir, one damselfly landed on my hand and remained perched there for a few moments. Despite this wonderful close-up view, I can unfortunately say no more than I believe the dainty green and black creature was a female because I didn’t recognise its markings.
The brown hawker, common darter and common blue damselfly were among eight dragonflies and six damselflies which the BDS had included on a couple of spotter’s sheets which I downloaded from their website specially for the challenge.
The British Dragonfly Society hope the challenge, which began last Saturday and which ended yesterday, July 23rd, will encourage more people to take an interest in dragonflies. The challenge was part of Dragonfly Week.
On the website, the society comment, “The world of dragonflies is changing fast. As vital indicators of the health of our freshwaters this has implications for the natural world as a whole.”