Monday, 24 July 2017


[Moves aside several weeks' worth of accumulated detritus, blows the dust off the 'New post' button and tentatively presses it...]

It has been nearly three weeks since my previous blogpost, which means that my usual 'twice a week' habit has foundered on the shores of the unchartered island of Doingotherstuff.

And what other stuff have I mainly been doing? Well, it's been quite an intense period of odo-ing, brought about by a decision made months ago to celebrate National Dragonfly Week (15-23 July) with a tour of the smaller islands of Orkney. The plan was to raise the profile of dragons and damsels throughout the outer isles, so that more folk might take an interest in conserving their habitat and to generally look out for these wondrous insects.

As a member of the Orkney Field Club committee, I was also keen to give some time to folk on the outer isles, because most Club walks and talks tend to be Mainland-based. So here was my opportunity to put that right and perhaps collect some useful data along the way.

I would have to take the time off work for the duration of National Dragonfly Week, but there would not be a possibility of recce-ing each island beforehand. To overcome this problem, I approached either Island Rangers or nature reserve wardens (RSPB) on individual islands to act as hosts and provide some logistical support, mainly in the form of transport. As a self-funded venture, I tried to keep costs down by not taking a car to each island. The wardens and rangers were keen to be involved, so the week's itinerary soon filled up and we then publicised the events. Through the Field Club network, via my own OrkOdo page on Facebook and with flyers sent to each island, the visits were promoted from about two weeks in advance.

I already had a prior commitment on Saturday 15th July, at an open day organised by the local biological records centre, but this would also act as a promotional day for the OrkOdo tour.

The Sunday before National Dragonfly Week, we (Our Lass, The Admiral (visiting on holiday), and I) took the ferry over to Graemsay to survey a quarry pond as a shake-down trip, to iron out any possible problems. This worked well, we seemed to have all the correct gear, plus we found a handful of Blue-tailed Damselflies emerging, which proved that they were actually breeding on the island, rather than being blown in from elsewhere.

A recently-emerged damselfly with its exuvia (shed larval skin)

Our Lass, Yours Truly and Sian (from Life on a Small Island), possibly as you've never seen her before

This is what we were looking at, a female Blue-tailed Damselfly
All photos courtesy of Alan Nelson.

To be continued...


Spadger said...

Yes the lack of 'blogage' did not go unnoticed.

And lo you are a 'member of the committee' trying to think who's awful catchphrase that was! Think t'was some Yorkshire man?

Imperfect and Tense said...

Are you having flashbacks to 'the Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club'?

Spadger said...

ah yes that'll be it!