Caught by the River

The River Soar

Mat Bingham | 26th September 2013

Banded Dem IMG_7616 (sharpened)_filtered

Words & pictures by Mat Bingham.

In July my family and I upped sticks and moved to the midlands. We picked a spot to move to based on a number of criteria. It needed a good school for our son, we like rural life so we needed a suitable village with a pub and it needed a river. Before we moved I scouted out the area and met a few of the local fishermen. I find fishermen to be an excellent source of information on the local wildlife and can save a lot of fruitless hours searching the river.

What attracted me to the River Soar is its differences to the Weaver it meanders along a natural course for long stretches. Its colour is much darker, it has much more aquatic vegetation and it is flashy responding much quicker to periods of heavy rainfall. Flood levels are noticeable by the debris in the trees along its banks.

Like most rivers there are areas which are hidden away, paths much less trodden and these are the areas that are best for wildlife. The river has inspired me and I have several ideas for some new photographic projects over the next few months and years.

This summer has been relatively warm and has been a good year for dragonflies and damselflies. I have been working on a project to photograph the lifecycle of Banded Demoiselles. They are a damselfly in abundance on the Soar.

The females are a metallic green and tend to rest in the bankside vegetation apart from when egg laying in the river (or ovipositing see photo at the top of the post).

Banded Dem IMG_7930 (sharpened)_filtered

The males are blue / green depending on how the light hits them and are much more common than the females. They always have a black patch on their wings. They set up territories which they patrol, often fighting with one another. When other males fly by they take a defence posture raising their tales (see photo). As the summer has gone on the number of Banded Demoiselle has declined as they are primarily a spring / early summer species.

As I am writing this the weather has turned and the first Autumn storm is forecast. I think I may have seen the last of the dragonflies and damselflies for another year. Time to start work on another project.

Mat Bingham
The River Weaver archive.