Monday 27 April 2009

An end, a beginning

I know, I know, you've spent all weekend worrying if the damsels and dragons have finally arrived in Buckinghamshire. No? Oh well, my work here is not yet complete, then.

There is good news... but hang on, I'm getting ahead of myself. How was Braised Bambi, you may be wondering. Absolutely dee-lish-ous. JD is not someone who thinks herbs are for herbivores. He's not even someone who knows the meaning of "enough different herbs now". He is, however, an exceptional cook. And he can dig a mean pond into the bargain. I'd swear there was tidal action going on, it's that big.

As a treat for the grumpy, convalescent git (me), I was then taken to a musical recital given by the world-renowned guitarist, Mr Gary Moore. I last attended one of his performances way back in the mid-Eighties and can happily report that the repertoire was completely different, save for the perennial favourite Parisienne Walkways. The venue did remind me of a plush Victorian engine shed, which was apt, because it felt like we were in a cattle truck (in case my GP's reading this, I was careful to stand at the back, out of harm's way). All in all, it was a pleasant day and I was all in at the end of it.

Back to the Odonata. Last Wednesday, whilst I was on the phone to my younger daughter, my good lady wife hurtled into the room to report that there was a Large Red Damselfly sunning itself in the garden. Predictably, by the time I had politely extricated myself from the conversation, it had gone. MGLW kindly showed me her photos of it. Like that helped!

By Sunday, I was on the wrong side of odo withdrawal symptoms, so we drove the short distance to Walton Lake, a small water body across the River Ouzel from the Open University. Here, on a peninsula (I couldn't spell isthmus), there are some excellent sheltered spots for insects, little oases of sun without a breath of wind. We headed straight for these, ignoring the calls of Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat (ok, so not quite ignoring). In no time at all, we were finding roosting Large Red Damselflies and I could start to relax. I doubt if it is possible for me to adequately convey the feelings of relief that this brought about, as it seemed such a long time since the last Migrant Hawker of early November. Although there are many magical moments throughout Winter (frost patterns, snowflakes, winter bird visitors from the far north to name a few), when the first damselfly of Spring is discovered, it brings to an end an aching that has been getting imperceptibly louder but steadily stronger for nearly six months.

The scream is over, bring on the smiles.

We counted about forty individuals nestled amongst the nettles, soaking up the liquid heat and forging it into that brilliant burnished red, edged with black and gold.

Blacksmiths and artists, every one.

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