Nation diary: The gorgeous demoiselle lives as much as its title | Nic Wilson

On the banks of Dragonfly Pond, household mutiny is brewing. My children have simply missed an azure flash throughout the water that vanished earlier than I might name “Kingfisher!”. They aren’t impressed. Having lured them to Exbury Gardens with the promise of winged magnificence, I’m hoping the pond will stay as much as its title.

I needn’t have anxious. Dragonfly Pond is one in every of simply 10 dragonfly “hotspots” – as designated by the British Dragonfly Society – in England and, from the floating pontoon, we quickly spot male small red-eyed damselflies perching on territorial platforms of broad-leaved pondweed. A pair of mating damsels fly previous, clasped in a coronary heart form often called the wheel place. Male emperor dragonflies patrol the margins like feisty Chinooks, whereas females oviposit on the undersides of aquatic vegetation, their sturdy abdomens probing the water with stunning deftness. Inside minutes we’ve recognized 5 of the 22 species recorded within the gardens, however to seek out the jewel within the crown, we have to comply with the streams.

Canoeing up the Nice Ouse in Bedfordshire in late July, we handed banded demoiselles, shimmering among the many reeds of their a whole lot. Now we’re hoping to see the one different British damselfly within the Calopteryx genus – the stunning demoiselle. In contrast to the teeming pond, although, the streams seem devoid of life, and the youngsters’s enthusiasm begins to wane. Then a spark glints within the oak tree above our heads. Holding the binoculars regular for my daughter, my palms over hers, I really feel her gasp. Our first stunning demoiselle.

‘A golden-ringed dragonfly alights momentarily earlier than resuming his personal boundary patrol.’ {Photograph}: Nic Wilson

Sunlit from behind, the male damselfly appears too artificial to be actual. His wings are normal from wire and gauze, his stomach dusted with sapphires. He glitters within the cover as if the oak has bored with producing acorns and miraculously introduced forth a gem.

Stunning demoiselles are exceedingly territorial, however this male has no want to maneuver proper now. There aren’t any conspecific rivals to chase off, solely a golden-ringed dragonfly that alights momentarily earlier than resuming his personal boundary patrol. Below regular circumstances, the dragon’s ostentatious black and gold physique would command all our consideration, however the children barely give him a second look. They solely have eyes for the iridescent damsel within the oak.

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