As every Odonata watcher knows, the first to emerge at the start of a new season is most often the Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula). One was sighted almost two weeks ago in Norfolk – an individual that I can only describe as aberrant. However, a reliable Hampshire-based contact submitted the first report of newly emerged Large Reds down on the south coast last weekend.
Given today’s very good, not to say better than advertised weather, and because it’s my last chance for a while, I went looking in one of our nearby nature reserves – one with a reputation for producing early Large Reds in Bedfordshire. Nada, nichts, nothing – save for one briefly glimpsed Comma butterfly (Polygonia c-album) and an even more briefly glimpsed Peacock butterfly (Inachis io) flying through without stopping to bask in the very welcome sun.
I left and, since I was more than half way there anyway, continued to Marston Moretaine Forest Centre. I walked all the way around the wetland reserve and saw … yes, you guessed it, pretty much nothing but a brief glimpse of a constantly flying Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni). I did, however, jump out of my comfort zone and pause to snag what I regard as classic sign of spring, a Pussy Willow (or so my botanist informs me).
A third stop on the way home to my local patch, Sandhouse Lane NR, produced nothing more than a couple of Bee-flies (Bombylius major) who weren’t hanging around for pictures to be taken.
So, all in all something of an expected blank. It was desperation on my part, after all.
After a late lunch at home and with the sun still shining unexpectedly, I looked more closely at our own back garden. Given the date and the temperature today, there was much less activity than I would have expected but there were a couple of those Bee-flies zooming about and occasionally pausing long enough for a macro lens to be directed their way. Here’s a reasonable shot showing the entirely harmless, rapier like snout. Delightful, aren’t they?
The Large Reds cannot be far away now, surely. On a positive note, today I did see an increased amount of smaller flying critters than a few days ago so, if they do emerge now, there will at least be something for them to eat. Go guys!