Demoiselle is worth the wait
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.pay[email protected]