Wednesday 28 July 2010

Counting butterflies and a dragon spell

Until I logged onto the BBC Nature website, I hadn't realised that it was the Big Butterfly Count from July 24th to Aug 1st, as part of Butterfly Conservation's... erm... would you believe, Butterfly Week. Fortuitously, we had just had a potter around the BBOWT reserve of Little Linford Wood and the place was teeming with them.

I was hoping to photograph White Admirals, but although our lass spotted three individuals, they were resolutely committed to staying out of camera range. So you'll have to make do with this fresh Peacock instead...

We recorded a dozen species, plus a Silver Y moth, but of course I really wanted to see  dragons. There were plenty of Brown Hawkers on the wing, the odd Southern Hawker, several Migrant Hawkers and a few Ruddy Darters. We had a bit of luck when an immature male Migrant landed in the undergrowth beside us, hanging around just long enough for me to galvanise myself into action to capture a shot.

Hopefully, warm summer evenings will now be filled with groups of these dragonflies, hunting and feeding, in woodland glades, along hedgerows, and if I'm very lucky, in the garden of Tense Towers. Several years ago, this did occur. And to be stood in a small space, bordered by a tall hedge and panel fences, surrounded by ten or so Migrant Hawkers, was a magical experience. The air was filled with the sound of their wings, a delicate gentle sound, as they brushed against the vegetation and carried out impossibly tight turns in their search for food. Unperturbed by my presence, the squadron of dragons stayed for a few minutes and then left as suddenly as they had arrived. A close encounter, fondly remembered.

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