Sunday, 12 August 2012

Dragons and Damsels at Parsonage Moor 12 August 2012

So taken was I with this delightful little reserve that I returned today for another morning's dragonfly hunting with the camera. Like many of BBOWT's reserves it is discreetly tucked away, seemingly deserted and has its own intrinsic charm. I had it to myself until unexpectedly encountering Badger who had the same idea as myself. We were the only two people present for the entire morning and wandered undisturbed through the swampy ground serenaded by the rustling of reeds and the odd burst of Reed Warbler song. Unlike yesterday I came prepared with a pair of wellingtons which allowed me to penetrate deeper into the wetter parts of the reserve and thus to search more areas suitable for Keeled Skimmers. However the sun was reluctant to shine until late morning so for a couple of hours we saw very little apart from a few damselflies, a couple of Brown Hawkers and lots of reeds. Just as expectation was retreating into resignation a short rain shower arrived to be followed by clear skies and the sun shone. This was the magic moment. Suddenly 'dragons and damsels' were everywhere.We stood by the small acidic pond where we had seen the Keeled Skimmer yesterday and a pond that was apparently devoid of dragonflies and damselflies was suddenly  transformed. Keeled Skimmer? There he was together with a male Southern Damselfly, a Small Red Damselfly and many ovipositing Common Darters. Where had they all been hiding? The paired Darters were almost frantic in their egg laying, dipping down on the water in rapid succession as if they knew that they must take every opportunity to complete the process. A Brown Hawker swooped overhead, dark and menacing carrying off what looked like another smaller dragonfly. The Keeled Skimmer eventually disappeared and we retreated back to the boardwalk. Badger unfortunately had no wellingtons so had to take care where he trod and could not go onto the wetter parts of the reserve. I pioneered out on to the reserve following a small acidic stream with marshy surroundings whilst Badger remained high and dry on the boardwalk. I had visited this spot earlier and it was then completely devoid of insect life but now with the sun shining I found a male Keeled Skimmer, then another and another until there were up to five on this small stretch of marsh. The exclamations of rapture emanating from yours truly finally persuaded Badger to take the plunge metaphorically and he followed me into the swamp regardless of the consequences to view the skimmers. Try as we might we could not locate any females but that was just a trifle. Eventually the cloud moved over the sun, the dragonflies became still and the reserve sank back into a still and humid contemplation. What a lovely and rewarding way to spend a Sunday morning. 

Seen today:
Brown Hawker; Hawker sp.probably Migrant or Southern; Keeled Skimmer; Common Darter; Ruddy Darter; Southern Damselfly; Azure Damselfly; Blue tailed Damselfly; Common Blue Damselfly; Small Red Damselfly

A word of warning about the pub opposite the Car Park. The Merry Miller is very appealing but if you go in make sure you have lots of money. £6.50 for a lager shandy and two bags of crisps! Ouch!

Southern Damselfly
Blue Tailed Damselfly

Small Red Damselflies mating
Common Darters mating
Common Lizard

Keeled Skimmers

Azure Damselfly

Marsh Badger

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