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