Scattered showers with occasional sunny spells should not prevent dragonfly enthusiasts from exploring sheltered roosting areas, provided you know where to look. After the delight of finding the Beautiful Demoiselles on Monday, we returned to the spot on Wednesday and, after tenacious searching, we managed to almost double the numbers.
The probability is there were figures well in excess of this, with the majority observed preferring to shelter high up in the trees. This isn’t the first time we’ve observed the Beautiful acting in this way – especially at this location – but we are more used to them perching at less than human head height. At the end of the day we’ve usually witnessed them burying themselves deep within the foliage; as close to ground level as possible.
Some of the larger species do the same. The Hairy and Brown Hawker for instance.
Besides offering a safe refuge for newly-emerged tenerals, the trees also provide the majority of insect prey, will offer better shelter from the rain and maximum exposure to sporadic sun. I’m also guessing the temperature is higher than the ground level of sheltered woodland with warm, moist air rising from the banks of the shaded stream below.
We are used to seeing Demoiselles frolicking in open areas on warmer days, and this is also the case here. When temperatures are too high in the canopy they descend to the few open sunny areas along the path to roost and feed. At these times the sight is a wonder to behold, as dozens cascade around you giving credence to the ‘fairies-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden’ myth.
This young section of river is one of the few places you can observe Beautiful Demoiselles outside of the New Forest, and it’s certainly one of the earliest – no doubt testament to temperatures being a few degrees higher inland from the coastal climate. The deep, sheltered valley also retains heat and humidity better than open heathland.
The wet meadow is popular all insects, including butterflies.
Although relatively small, this location provides the perfect mix of traditional wooded river valley, water meadow and farmland. A peaceful, compact area ideal for spending a couple of hours.