Posted by: Ross Gardner | June 4, 2012

Better late than never

It has been a late spring in many ways.  It took a burst of warm weather to bring the buttercup into full bloom among the hay meadow at work and the Holly Blue that frequent our back garden had waited for April to end and May to begin.  It must be particular problematic for weather-sensitive creatures like the butterflies.  They have certainly seemed thinner on the ground.  Indeed, the likes of the Duke of Burgundy Fritillary and the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, spring flying rarities that they are, have received some national coverage on the potential problems caused by a wet, cool spring.  Hopefully the recent warm and dry weather arrived in time.

The Large Red Damselfly – that so eagerly anticipated first appearance of the dragons and damsels that will delight us into the still distant autumn – also seemed to be a couple of weeks behind.  I didn’t lay eyes on one this year until practically the middle of May, when before I have sometimes found them on the wing still with a few days of April left on the calendar.  They have since appeared in our garden pond, along with the odd Azure Damselfly.

Large Red Damselfly ( Pyrrhosoma nymphula). Copyright 2012 Ross Gardner

These two represent a kind of default Odonata setting for our small pond.  We have had other species before, such as Blue-tailed and even Small Red-eyed Damselfly.  One year we watched more than 50 Emperor Dragonfly nymphs emerge from the weedy water, over the course of a week or two.  We also had Common Darter emerging later in the summer.  Between them they ate through a good part of the invertebrate fauna of a pond which wasn’t really equipped for these larger, more voracious aquatic predators.  We would welcome them all back, but if we have, as we normally do, just the Large Reds and the Azures reappearing each spring, then we know everything is still working.  And if they are late, they are all the more welcome for it.



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