Willow Holt was on good form despite the overcast, humid nature of the day. Russian comfrey and meadow cranesbill are prettily abundant along the river stretch, and the ringlet butterflies are flying about the pastureland when no other butterflies are, due to the heat absorbing properties of their very dark purpley-black colouration. The willow trees in the holt are all shedding seeds, leading to a eerie furry white carpet all over the reserve grounds and further round the river, a sedge warbler was flitting among the waterside plants.
But after looking for one virtually since the snows left the ground, I caught sight of my first damselfly of the year. It was one of these fellows, a beautiful banded demoiselle.
|Banded Demoiselle, from wikimedia by Frederick Boerhinger|
It was flitting about around the fishing pegs on the river alongside the buttercup meadows. In flight, it never ceases to remind me of a metallic blue x-wing fighter, the large dark spots on the wing creating a very arresting pattern as they beat the air.
They are late this year; typically they emerge from the water in early may, but with the terrible freezing spring, the nymphs have developed later, in common with so much other British wildlife in 2013. For town dwellers, a good place to see them is around the weir and the river island (not the shop!) at Mill Lane bridge by the Navigation pub. Hopefully other damsel species like the common blue and the blue tailed damselfly will be visible soon, followed by the big, beastly dragonflies like the southern and brown hawkers.
I love them, and it is my lifework to get a half decent picture of one on my mobile phone camera! Good luck with that!