Sunday, 12 July 2015

Dragons and damsels at UEA

In the glorious sunshine of last weekend, like many students investigating the open day, we visited UEA. We haven't walked the boardwalk around the broads there for ages, and we picked a good day for some of my favourite invertebrates.

I am still learning how to identify our various Odonata species, but I am improving slowly. We paused next to a gap in the bank side vegetation to admire some bright yellow lillies. Perched delicately on the petals of one, we noticed a male banded demoiselle being reflected perfectly in the still water below.

As we watched, we noticed the electric blue of the common blue damselfly males zipping past at speed (you might just be able to see one in the right of the above picture), occasionally settling to rest on reeds which seemed dangerously close to the fish lurking below. These dainty creatures were also joined by a larger relative, a brown hawker, with its beautifully tinges wings, patrolling its territory up and down the bank, never settling or getting too close to us. Whilst we were watching, an equally electric blue flash passed us - a kingfisher who disappeared as quickly as it appeared.

The hedgerows were also humming with bees and butterflies. The striking small tortoiseshells were fluttering in abundance, in the company of speckled woods and meadow browns. We were also lucky to spot the tiny small skipper butterfly along the footpath, moving away from us a few feet at a time. The larger red admiral was also present on bramble flowers in the shadier parts of our walk. None would pose with wings open, presumably they were already at optimum temperature (and may have been preventing overheating?).

When we returned to the river, we spotted an Emperor dragonfly patrolling its patch and a perched female banded demoiselle.

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