Posted by: Ross Gardner | August 13, 2014

Well, what d’you know!

Hermitage Water, Wapping.  Ross Gardner 2014.

Hermitage Water, Wapping. Ross Gardner 2014.

Nature will never run out of surprises, an assertion that I have begun a post with on more than one occasion.  In fact, even with sights and sounds that we might grow, to some extent, familiar with, some things never lose the ability impress and surprise anew; spring bluebells woods and huge winter flocks of coastal waders leap promptly to mind.  Locality can also instil that sense of excitement in the discovery of old faces in new places, quite often in those urban situations that can be the mostly unexpected of all.

Hermitage Water – a small, broadly rectangular expanse of water in London’s dockland, in Wapping not far from the very famous St Katherine Dock – has featured in this blog before, by courtesy of the resident Coot that have already raised two broods this year.  There’s was not an unexpected presence here yesterday, neither really the Emperor Dragonfly hawking low over the water (although it was a very nice bonus to see it laying eggs) and the odd couple of Common Blue Damselfly.  To find it positively thronging with another species was not entirely anticipated however.

The Small Red-eyed Damselfly is a rather interesting member of the UK dragonfly and damselfly fauna.  It was unknown in Britain until 1999, when it was seen for first time in Essex.  Since then they have successfully colonised the south-eastern corner of England, reaching as far north as Lincolnshire and as far west as East Devon.  Within much of this range it couldn’t really be regard as a rarity, but to find them by the dozen in heart of the capital city was still something of a welcome and pleasant surprise.  They have a liking for nutrient rich water-bodies, with copious submerged vegetation breaking the surface of the water, such as mats of algae or an abundance of oxygenating weed (e.g. Hornwort).  The conditions at Hermitage would appear to fit the bill very nicely, given the numbers present there mating and laying eggs.

From nesting Coot and visiting Grey Wagtail in the spring to a summer dragonfly haven with three nesting species.  Not bad for small dock in the middle of the city.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum).  Ross Gardner 2104.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum). Ross Gardner 2104.

 

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