De­moi­selle is worth the wait

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - HERALD & POST -

VERY few in­sects take your breath away – but the banded de­moi­selle is an ex­cep­tion.

This won­der­ful large mem­ber of the dam­sel­fly fam­ily is ab­so­lutely strik­ing when it flut­ters by with out­stretched bright blue wings.

There aren’t too many banded demoi­selles to be found around Cleve­land, un­for­tu­nately, and in fact I caught up with this par­tic­u­lar in­di­vid­ual close to the River Dove in Der­byshire.

The wings of the male have a bright blue band across the cen­tral por­tion and its large wings give the ef­fect of a but­ter­fly when in flight. The male’s body is a stun­ning metal­lic blue-green.

The fe­male is not so colour­ful but still easy to iden­tify, be­ing pale green with a bronze tip.

Males are very ter­ri­to­rial, so if you spot one close to a slow-mov­ing river or steam, then it’s al­ways worth­while sit­ting down and watch­ing it flit­ting up and down in its at­tempts to at­tract an in­quis­i­tive fe­male.

It’s when you sit qui­etly by flow­ing wa­ter watch­ing the world go by that you re­alise that there is a wealth of wildlife around you just wait­ing to be spot­ted.

Sev­eral reed war­blers, which are quite com­mon in our area at the mo­ment, were busily mooching up and down the reeds look­ing for in­sects with which to feed their young. I saw one with a huge green cater­pil­lar in its break.

But the bird­ing high­light came from the sud­den ap­pear­ance of a Cetti’s war­bler, which dropped on to the top of a reed for a few min­utes be­fore spot­ting me and zoom­ing away.

Cetti’s war­blers are one of na­ture’s few re­cent suc­cesses. They were orig­i­nally found only in the South but have grad­u­ally been push­ing fur­ther north in re­cent years.

These lovely birds, which re­sem­ble large wrens and have ob­vi­ous rus­tic coloured backs, have reached our area and a singing male was very vo­cal at RSPB Saltholme a cou­ple of months ago.

There was a wealth of birdlife be­cause a buz­zard and then a red kite grad­u­ally glided past, though slightly above the level of the tree­tops.

As I sat there try­ing to take pho­tos of the banded demoi­selles, a mixed flock of grey­lag and Canada geese came to in­spect me, ac­com­pa­nied by a host of grow­ing goslings.

How­ever the high­light of my visit was the ap­pear­ance of a hare, which slowly am­bled to­wards me.

I must have been down­wind from him be­cause he would nor­mally have scarpered pretty quickly. But he came very close and sat there wash­ing his ears be­fore sud­denly rac­ing away as I strug­gled to get my cam­era into fo­cus.

Eric would like to hear from read­ers about what they have seen. Email him at eric.pay­lor@gmail.com

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