Are you seeing more Damselflies in your garden than a few weeks ago? This warmer weather is perfect for them and their larger cousins, the Dragonflies. Last year, Paxton Pits Nature Reserve was designated a Dragonfly and Damselfly hotspot by the British Dragonfly Society for the ease of access and the 25 known species that we have here. As the Friends of Paxton Pits and HDC have been unable to celebrate this as yet, we have decided to hold an information day on Sunday 25th July with the assistance of the British Dragonfly Society. There will also be a morning and afternoon walk, led by an expert, to find some of the species that can be found on the reserve. Come along and have a chat to us in the garden at the Visitor Centre. Look out for further details on our website and Facebook.
Dragons and Damsels are carnivorous, mainly eating midges and mosquitoes and other flying insects. This will include the hoverfly, the second most important pollinator after bees. Jackie Hill took this lovely close-up of one at Paxton Pits, probably of the Eupeodes species.
I am pleased to say that I have seen more of these insects around in the last month. They prosper in areas that have not had insecticide applied in recent times. The pollinators have plenty of flowers to feed on down on the reserve now. The Viper’s Bugloss is particularly looking good at present. It has been lovely to see more freshly pupated butterflies such as the Comma around.
Birds, as well as spiders (in their webs) and frogs predate the Dragons and Damsels. Terns eat live prey in their breeding grounds, so although they mainly take fish, they will also take flying insects, such as Dragons and Damsels. This is one reason that the terns have done well on the tern rafts this year. At least 7 chicks are now flying. The other reason is that the rafts, now have electric fencing to prevent the chicks being predated!
With the fledging of the young birds, migration starts to happen. Young cuckoo have been seen on the reserve, so their parents are probably well on their way to Africa again. Green sandpipers have also been reported. These are probably non-breeders from their sub-Arctic breeding grounds.
I almost trod on a grass snake the other day. It is amazing what wildlife you see, when you least expect it! Please let us know your Paxton Pits wildlife sightings, either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or pop into the Visitor Centre and write them in the sightings book.