Wildlife enthusiast and resident volunteer at Exbury, Juliet, the new Dragonfly Pond, here at Exbury Gardens.
The resumption of this wildlife blog coincides with the official opening of the Dragonfly Pond. It is definitely worth a visit even if you can’t tell a damselfly from a dragonfly, or recognise any of the various different species. It is an attractive-looking pond with a wealth of different wildlife in, on and around it.
Large Emperor Dragonflies (our biggest species) fly restlessly over the pond, the females descending to the surface to lay their eggs in the vegetation, the males patrolling and seeing off their rivals. The Emperor male is a striking creature, with a green thorax and blue abdomen; the female has a green abdomen. Smaller dragonflies, such as the Common Darter and Black-tailed Skimmer dart restlessly among the grasses and reeds, perching momentarily before zooming off yet again.
On the leaves of the vegetation can be seen various species of damselfly, which perch with their wings folded along their back in contrast to dragonflies, which hold their wings at right angles to their body. Three species, Common Blue, Azure Blue and Red-eyed can all be found, the latter best told (as its name implies) by its red eyes, the other two very similar and with bluer markings. Around the edges of the lake other species can be found and the information boards on display help with the challenge of identifying them.
When the sun goes in all activity ceases; both damselflies and dragonflies disappear from sight and only re-emerge when the sun reappears. It is definitely worth timing your visit for a sunny day.
Common grassland butterflies also inhabit the lakeside vegetation and you might see Gatekeepers or Meadow Browns, Small Heaths or Large Skippers. This latter butterfly is small and quite moth-like in appearance, holding its wings at an angle to display their light and dark pattern.