Words and picture by Mat Bingham.
The first dragonflies of the year I find on the river are not true dragonflies but damselflies. Large Red Damselfly followed by Blue Tailed and Banded Demoiselle can be found on sunny days on the bankside vegetation or dancing across the river patrolling their territories. Damselflies are not as strong flyers as dragonflies and rest with their wings folded.
The dragonflies of spring for me are Hairy Dragonfly (a speciality of the river) and the chasers both Four Spotted (see photo) and Broad Bodied.
These damselflies and dragonflies normally emerge in late April through to mid May. Its now the end of May and there’s still a real chill in the air it feels more like early April. The water temperature is what triggers the emergence of damselflies and dragonflies and as its still quite low they haven’t started emerging. After a prolonged search at the weekend I managed to find one Blue Tailed Damselfly not much of a count for the last day of May!
The birds on the other hand measure spring by the lengthening days, the residents on the river are busy rearing their first broods of the year. The two pairs of Kingfishers have had mixed fortunes. The Ash Tree pair are busy feeding young at the nest. The pair at the sluice have not been so lucky. I found the remains of one of the pair on the river bank. Not much was left only part of the tail and a wing. I took a few of the feathers and photographed them (see attached). Their feathers are dazzling as the light reflects flying fast and low along the river. Viewed up close they are surprisingly drab. This is what makes them quite difficult to spot when perched in the shade on the riverbank. I hope the remains I found don’t belong to spirited young male I watched a few weeks ago fighting for his territory. I have been searching but haven’t seen either of the sluice pair in the last couple of weeks so I don’t know what happened to them. Only that one of the pair certainly hasn’t survived.