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Of Damsels and Dragons

Photography Day Leading for Greenwings on the Somerset Levels - May 15th 2023

It's been a very up and down spring so far in terms of weather and the cold and wet start to spring has meant a delay in many invertebrates making their appearance, but finally after some warm and sunny weather they have begun to appear albeit slowly and steadily.

The forecast has certainly be very variable too changing daily so when I came to Monday morning I wasn't quite sure what weather would great us, but it was a beautiful clear if not chilly start to the day and a light rain shower in the early hours covered everything in a blanket of water droplets.

We began the day with a slow walk along the path towards the reserve using this time to get our eye in and start the search for damselflies amongst the nettles and we found a few and the odd long-jawed orb-weaver spider too with their silk glinting in the early morning rays of sun. As we approached closer to the entrance to the reserve the numbers of damselflies certainly increased and it was here we found our first dragonflies and the first four spotted chasers of the year, roosting in the nettles.

We spent a wonderful couple of hours in this area with the dragonflies and numerous variable, blue-tailed and large red damselflies on a variety of different vegetating including stinging nettles and bracken and as the sun rose higher and the little damselflies dried off and warmed up they started to take to the air almost dancing above the foliage before darting off in search of some food. We were also lucky enough to see a very vibrant nursery web spider warming up in the sun on the catchweed bedstraw (more commonly known as sticky willy!), I've certainly not seen one this vibrant before.

As many took to the wing we headed off into the reserve making a slow meander looking carefully to see what we could find accompanied by the ever present booming of the bitterns and the occasional call of the cuckoo not to mention the fly pass of the marsh harrier and good views of the great white egret. We found plenty more azure, variable and large red damselflies along with plenty of mosquitoes!

After a good early morning session, it was definitely time for a tea and coffee break before heading out onto the mire to see what we could find. The first wonderful little creature to great us came in the form of green tiger beetles, and a fair few of them, but being spring they had important business to attend to and despite seeing a few individuals and a few paired up and the occasional fight they proved very difficult to actually photograph, sometimes you just have to watch and enjoy.

We had a short pit stop to photograph some sundews before moving further on to the mire where we had the most wonderful encounter with a roe deer. We had see her walk down the path in front of us them veer off to find some food, although clearly aware we were there she was un-phased and continued her munching and walking eventually popping back out on to the path and bouncing off towards the woodlands. A really wonderful and peaceful encounter rarely experienced and in the middle of the day.

The rest of the after we spent with the sundews at the pond enjoying the peace and quiet being the only people there, listening to the sounds of being on the reserve.

All in all a truly lovely day spent on a special reserve with some wonderful wildlife for company. Thank you to those that came along and made it a lovely day in the sun surrounded by nature.

If you would like to join me this Sunday (21st may) we have a few spaces available.

And do keep an eye on my events page as I do update this regularly with new events as they are confirmed.

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