Saturday, 11 June 2011

BDS Field Trip - Variable Damselfly Hunting

For this year's BDS Field Trip, we went hunting for Variable Damselfly. This is a species that has sporadic records, mostly in the north of the County, so we set off to see if we could find any colonies in the Peterborough area. Our first stop was at Maxey Gravel Pits where Variables were recorded here in 2007 although I haven't heard of any records since then. About 20 Variable Damselflies were flitting about the lilly pads on a large floating mass of lillies. A single pair in tandem landed on the pads and began to oviposit, frustratingly out of reach of my camera. In the air above, Emperor, Hairy and many Four-spotted Chaser buzzed around as the sun burts through the clouds. Also see were Common Blue, Blue-tail, Azure Damselfly, an ovipoiting pair of Large Reds and many Red-eyes. Maxey pits are very unspectacular and could be any other gravel pit complex, so why does it host Variables Damselfies while others do not? As we pondered this enigma, we took a detour along Maxey Cut, walking for many km along this linear water course. Here we saw more Variables, Azures, Emperors, Four-spotted Chaser, hundreds of Common Blues & Blue-tails and several Banded Demoiselle - fewer than expected considering the habitat. A great day out added 3 new 1km squares for Variable Damselfy and a total of 9 species seen.