Sunday 6 May 2012

Damsel dilemma

What will the month of May deliver to the UK?

Following the third warmest March since records began and the wettest April that the Met Office can recall, Nature could be forgiven for being in a bit of a flap and somewhat confused in 2012. After the fantastic experience of recording a Large Red Damselfly on the 3rd April (admittedly much further south and west than the county where Tense Towers is located), things have been pretty lean in the Odonata department. As it turns out, the day after our sighting, the weather changed for the colder and then the wetter, so I guess it's not so surprising.

Yesterday, in a brief respite from the gloom and rain, there were a few sunny spells, though this was tempered by a bitingly chilly north wind. In fact, Our Lass, who is currently on a work placement in Orkney, reported that it had snowed on the islands that morning. Undeterred, the Admiral and I ventured to Walton Lake, on the west side of the Open University campus, to search for the first Buckinghamshire Odonata records for 2012. This site is usually one of the first in the area where damselflies (and dragonflies, if we're really lucky) emerge, as it has some sheltered pools and glades. As it was, the 5th May was an unprecedentedly late date to be searching for that elusive first ode in the county.

After scouring some likely spots, mainly south facing slopes with plenty of roosting vegetation, we eventually found two Large Red Damselflies. Both were mature individuals, so had probably emerged a few days ago. But that was it, just two.

In similarly vein, the Tense Towers pond has not yet shown any evidence of odonatological emergence by these harbingers of the flight season, nor the various pools and ponds at Hanson Environmental Study Centre. However, whilst checking out the latter, the Admiral did point out some Swifts overhead, the first ones I have seen this year.

Today, the weather has returned to grey skies. It remains cold and the forecast for the week ahead is for slowly rising temperatures with yet more rain. Whoop.


Martin said...

I am sure the 26 degree minutes north has had an extreme effect on weather and consequentially the Damselfly populations; the westerly I can be sure of ;)

Here the orchids are over, the land is drying, butterflies are roaming free, grasshoppers are making music and young birds are in evidence... Ah yes, I am in Greece this week!

*End of smart comments*

Imperfect and Tense said...

And plenty of turtles too, I hear!