Wildlife roundup – If only I could fly too

May’s warmth and sunshine brought out many winged creatures and my favourites are always the dragonflies and their relatives. Early on in May, at the edge of our small pool, we saw the first Large Red damselflies (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) basking in the sun.

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They are tremendously beautiful creatures and the golden/bronze details on the thorax and abdomen can’t help but catch your eye. Their two year lifecycle consists of the first year being spent in still water (such as garden ponds and ditches) first as an egg and then as a nymph. When they finally emerge from the water they like there to be a thick cover of vegetation, which they climb up as they wait for their wings to harden off.

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Large red damselfly with kaleidoscope eyes!

After mating you will see males still clasped around the females neck flying around in tandem until egg laying is finished, warding off other males.

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Males will often remain in tandem with the female until the eggs are deposited

Soon after the Large Red damselflies appeared we started to see blue damselflies too. I think that I have identified these as Variable damselflies, Coenagrion pulchellum. For some reason these look smaller and are harder to see than the red ones. They seem to phase in and out of sight. However, they are typically the same size as the Large Red and like the same kinds of places and environment.

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Variable damselfly eating a moth

They are fairly camera shy, but the easiest time to take a picture of them is when they have their mouths full or are otherwise occupied!

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Variables flying around in tandem

There are plenty of both these species of damselfly about the pond on sunny days, but they are having to keep a good look out now because there are Four-spotted Chaser dragonflies (Libellula quadrimaculata) about too. What a beauty!

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Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly on its preferred cane view-point

This one spent an afternoon buzzing the other inhabitants of the pond, but I didn’t see it catch anything.

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Looking into the face of the dragon

I grew pennisetum macrourum around the pond last year and this is providing very handy perches for the dragonflies to watch the pond for easy prey. They mostly seem to zoom off to hunt when the male damselflies end up fighting over a female.

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Four-spotted chaser watching the pond for prey

There are a number of other winged sources of food fluttering around the area too. For instance, Holly Blue butterflies have been busy laying eggs on the flowers of a holly hedge.

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With the holly flowering mostly over, they now seem to be flitting around the flower buds on the olive trees that we have in large pots around a pebbled area beyond the pond. I’ve not noticed that before.

I was very happy to see the return of a humming-bird hawk-moth last weekend.  This moth is a migrant to the UK and its numbers vary tremendously from year to year. The Butterfly Conservation Trust monitors these numbers and would be please to hear from you if you see one (online form here).

I grow centranthus rubra around the patio mostly in the hope that its tubular flowers will attract this visitor. Unfortunately, these moths move so fast that I have only blurry pictures of it:

Hopefully you get the sense of the humming-bird action and don’t you love that tongue!

One other piece of good wildlife news is that the local goldcrests have had babies and we now have four perky, tiny birds hopping around the strawberry tree waiting for their turn in the waterfall.

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Goldcrest on the waterfall

I am once again linking up with Tina at mygardenersays for her monthly wildlife meme. It is always interesting to see what others have spotted in their gardens, so do take a look!

 

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About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
This entry was posted in birds, Nature, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Wildlife roundup – If only I could fly too

  1. Tina says:

    Truly beautiful photos–all of them, but those of the damsels and dragons, just, wow! I need to get cracking on my damsel and dragon goings-on; I watched a female Neon Skimmer lay eggs in the bog yesterday and didn’t jump up with the camera. I guess the birdies wore me out on the camera clicking! Anyhow, thanks for joining in–your post was a treat!

  2. You have captured some wonderful photographs. Brilliant.

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    Wonderful photos! You must be very patient. 🙂 The Large Red damselflies are so striking. I wonder if they are easier to see than the Variables because the eye sees red better than blue, which also blends in with green (yellow+blue) plants?
    Do the Four-spotted dragonflies eat damselflies?

    • Ha, not very patient. If I see these wonderful insects, then I try to sneak up on them, but I’ve never been good at sitting and waiting for something to appear. I think that you are right about our sensitive to red wavelengths being better than blue (unless they have mastered lightspeed jumps!). Yes, the larger dragonflies will eat smaller ones, but mostly midges, moths and butterflies. We’ve just got this fantastic concentrate of damselflies around the pond that is too good to overlook!

  4. Wow, amazing photos! Nice to see the humming bird hawk moth again, I find them impossible to catch in action. Do you find P. macrourum runs a bit?

    • Thanks Kate. If I could figure out a food source for the humming-bird moths that kept them more stationary or that was a stronger magnet to them then I would certainly grow it, because you only have about a second to focus before they move on! Hence the blurry pictures. Yes, P. macrourum definitely runs and will re-emerge (a bit like couch grass) after removal unless you are careful.

  5. Chloris says:

    Oh my goodness, you gave excelled yourself with absolutely stunning photos.

  6. Sue says:

    Wow, great photos of the dragonflies and damselflies, especially the one looking right at it. Love the pics of the hawk moth too, I’d love to see one of these guys in action!

  7. wonderful gold crest photo. it looks so half formed!

  8. AMAZING photographs – just incredible – especially the dragon and damselflies.

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