Saturday 5 August 2017

The End of the Show

The ninth and final day of National Dragonfly Week was a leisurely jaunt to an old quarry in West Mainland. No boats, no planes, just a gentle car drive through a rural landscape and by a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Instead of turning right for the archaeological Mecca that is the Ness of Brodgar, we turned left up a single track road and, after a couple of miles, parked at Happy Valley, a small croft with a follied garden.

To be honest, in the run up to Dragonfly Week, I had wondered whether the whole idea of visiting a different island every day was pure folly but, in the end, I was happy to say that it had been a fantastic undertaking. There were folks on each visited island who now knew how to find and ID a dragon or a damsel, which was ample reward in itself. But the extended week had also been a wonderful experience, seeing new sites and many, many odes.

So here was the finale, a pleasant walk up Russadale to look at the pools of the old quarry. With me today were Linda, Barrie, Brian and Alan, plus numerous midges and horse flies. These latter characters provided me with a bit of an ethical dilemma. On a dragonfly walk, searching for odonatalogical gold, is it ever appropriate to wear this... ?

We had a quick look at the relatively new pond which had been created in a meadow adjacent to Happy Valley, but we only managed to find a single Large Red Damselfly. However, a bed of pondweed was beginning to develop in this water body, which bodes well for the future.

Up at the old quarry, in reasonably warm conditions, we searched the pools but only found a few Large Red and Blue-tailed Damselflies. This was a surprise, as I would have expected a greater abundance of these species at this time of year, as well as Common Blue Damselfly and Black Darter Dragonfly.

Russadale pool. Photo: Alan Nelson

Russadale pool. Photo: Alan Nelson

Russadale pool. Photo: Alan Neslon
The day was saved when Alan discovered an ovipositing Common Hawker, and the whole group was able to have great views of her as she laid eggs into moss at the water's edge.

Common Hawker female ovipositing. Photo: Alan Neslon
Big dragons are always impressive and, with evidence of breeding behaviour, this was the perfect way to end the week. I must say a big Thank You to all the folks who helped out with the isles' tour, whether hosting or ferrying us about, and to all the people who came along to learn about dragonflies, often in very inclement weather. And an especially huge Thank You to Alan, Buckinghamshire dragonfly recorder, who spent a week of his Orkney holiday following me about, taking photographs and making copious notes, so that I didn't have to. It really wouldn't have gone half so well without his dedication and enthusiasm.

Hmmm, what to do for 2018?


Mark said...

Dear Mr Tense, I owe you a huge debt of gratitude for getting me into dragons. I recently broke my wrist in a cycling accident so have a little time on my hands. TWD was out shopping so I spent a wonderful saturday afternoon walking by the river, it was so lovely. ID'd five dragon/damsels and at least two others that were a tad too quick plus many lovely Butterflies.

Your photos are cracking!

regards, Mark.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Hi Mark, sorry to hear that you're 'hors de combat', but I can assure you that looking for dragons is a much safer pastime! And, to be fair, most of the recent photos were taken by our friend Alan. I don't have any experience of odes in Lincolnshire, but wondered if this website was of use to you: