Friday 4 August 2017

Rousay-ing success

Apologies for the spoiler in the post title! I thought, perhaps, it would dispel any gloom from the Egilsay trip. So, yes, Day 7 of National Dragonfly Week saw the OrkOdo tour visit the island of Rousay. Again we were hosted by Christine from the RSPB, again we were on the wee ferry out of Tingwall, but the difference from the previous day was the visibility.

There were six of us in the group, with local experts on many taxa, including trees, birds, flowers, beetles, bees and, of course, dragonflies. With all this heavyweight knowledge on tap, perhaps it was no surprise that the first water body we visited was in a wood planted next to the island school.

Photo: Alan Nelson
Sadly, as it was the school holidays, the Odonata seemed to have gone on vacation too.

The next port of call was the Loch of Scockness, at the eastern end of Rousay, and we had our first damselfly sighting along the track leading to the loch, a male Common Blue damsel.

Photo: Alan Nelson
As we navigated our way through the marginal vegetation towards the water's edge, we began to spot many more damselflies, including more Common Blues, as well as Blue-tailed damsels.

We sat down by the loch for a picnic lunch and, during the break, it occurred to me to check the species list for Rousay. It didn't include Blue-tailed! Wowser, an island first. Yay!

Photo: Alan Nelson
During the afternoon, we checked a garden pond, a big loch and a small lochan, but managed only a Common Blue at the latter. As we headed back towards the pier for the return ferry, Brian, who was our driver for the day, mentioned a field pond that he'd never checked. Parking by the roadside, we could see the pond, dug into a gentle hillside in a field below us. I went off to knock on the nearest door to see if we could have permission to investigate. The owner was more than happy for us to survey the pond, so we duly trooped into the field to have a look.

Photo: Alan Nelson
It turned out to be Blue-tailed Damselfly central, with dozens of these damselflies all very active in the late afternoon sunshine. There were males searching for females, males and females busy mating, and several females ovipositing.

Photo: Alan Nelson
And, yes, I couldn't help but notice that virtually every time Alan took a photo of the group, I was doing my Mr Pointy impersonation.

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