Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Enter the dragon

I was painting the office door between Budget bullet-points yesterday, when this arrived. A first for our garden, it caught the sun as it jinked powerfully across the lawn and ended up on the top of my second tallest pea stick. I managed to grab the camera and will the insect to stay. Then I caught my foot on the base of the stick and off it went, flying up in a huge circle but then returning, as insects often seem to do, and perching instead on the tallest stick. Penny compared it to both a giant hover-fly and my grandfather's Royal Flying Corps SE5A biplane, which indeed it resembles, but I'm 99 percent sure, from the excellent website of the British Dragonfly Society ( that it is a female Broad-bellied Chaser. Welcome! Maybe she is the first fruit of our restored pond. btw do click on the pic to make it much bigger cos I'm very proud of my focussing. And that was hand-held, without the use of my trusty mini-tripod Miranda.

Dragonflies have exciting names, such as the Northern Emerald and Vagrant Emperor, and the BDS website's sighting column is headed Hot News. But then they are exciting creatures in a much more obvious way than moths; witness Philip Pullman's brilliant use of them as steeds for His Dark Materials' fierce little Gallivespians - a good entomological coining, with 'vespa' the Latin for wasp (and Italian as well, hence the buzzy little scooter's name).

I've filled in the sighting on the BDS website to add to their atlas of dragonfly distribution. The Chaser is described there as common and widespread in the South of England and Wales. Like quite a few of the moths I've trapped here, it seems to be wisely moving north.

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