Tuesday 29 August 2017

Graemsay gig

Back in early July, a trip to Graemsay aroused some local interest in the damselflies breeding in a quarry pool on the island. From this tiny spark, Sian (from Life on a Small Island), gently fanned the flames of enthusiasm with regular reports of sightings of Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies.

Photo of the quarry pool (S. Thomas)
A male Common Blue Damselfly (S. Thomas)
Following a chance conversation whilst travelling on the ferry between Graemsay and Stromness, Sian had realised that the island's children were keen to learn more about dragons and damsels.So, shortly after National Dragonfly Week had ended, she asked me if it would be possible to come to the island to give a talk. How could I possibly refuse a request such as that?!

And so it came to pass, last Friday, Our Lass and I caught the early evening boat to Graemsay, armed with a laptop, a bag of assorted craft materials and some empty larval skins in sample tubes. Oh, the glamour!

Not long after we arrived at the tiny Community Hall and started setting up, the audience began to arrive. For an island that has a small population, perhaps because it has a small population, the turn out was impressive. Not least due to the age range, a multi-generational crowd such as anyone would wish to see. One of the perceived problems with natural history is a dearth of young blood at meetings and events where, too often, a worried sea of grey is the overwhelming impression. Not here on Graemsay, I thought to myself, much relieved. It fair gladdened the heart.

The view from the back of the hall (S. Thomas)
The view from the front!
My brief was to keep it light and short, but the intended 20 minute talk (with a much-pruned Powerpoint presentation) sort of morphed into over an hour of random tales of dragon hunting, before a short question/answer session and then some crafty diversions making dragonflies from pipe cleaners. Once I'd finished waffling on, the children soon got into the spirit of the occasion, with competing dragonflies having aerial dogfights and colourful dragons decorating their hair.

Dragonflies under construction
Then it was time for supper, with a wondrous spread laid on by the islanders.

Having attended various seasonal functions in the hall on Graemsay (it's amazing what the islanders can cram into such a small space), it was lovely to be able to give something back to the island, and the fact that I've now 'gigged' the Community Hall is a treasured memory I will savour for many a year. My thanks to all involved in making the event a success, and especially to Sian for her hospitality and photos.

For an alternative view, please see:





Anonymous said...

great looking talk looked at the extra bits great keep up the good work(several odos flying in our garden look like emperor(?)not able take photos
Cpt Sundial

Spadger said...

Brilliant - you should be well proud of yourself as I am for you!

Some of those kids could be the future hope for our threatened and beleaguered wildlife

Its stories like this make me feel all my banging of head against brick walls,the anger, fury and angst as registered on the Victor Scale isn't all completely in vain.


Imperfect and Tense said...

Captain Sundial, glad to hear you've some dragons in your garden. That's wonderful.

JD, never in vain, keep up the good work.