Damselfly Identification Course

Damselfly Course
Jenner Hall Course Room

Our Damselfly Identification course started with a welcome by the Cricklade Town Crier and Court Leet member Eric. Sue Rees-Evans our tutor for the course then outlined the programme for the day to a full house of 12 attendees. The weather was very hot at 29 deg C with a thunderstorm forecast for the afternoon at the end of our field trip to North Meadow NNR.

Fortunately our room at the Jenner Hall was nice and cool. Sue explained the species of Damselflies and Dragonflies found in the UK using some stunning close up photographs. We then focused on the Damselflies we were likely to see and the key features used to identify them.

Emperor Dragonfly Female Egg Laying
Emperor Dragonfly Female Egg Laying © Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0

Sue followed this with some very helpful exercises using photographs to practice our newly discovered identification skills.

After a nice packed lunch siting in the shade around the Jenner Hall we set off for North Meadow. Surprisingly as we approached the meadow entrance we were delighted to see an Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) ovipositing (egg laying) in Little Kent Close.

Field Trip to North Meadow NNR

We headed into North Meadow to find a shady place for our base out of the hot sun. On the way we saw some more Emperor Dragonflies which is the largest dragonfly in the UK with a wingspan of 10cm. Several course members also saw a Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly (Libellula quadrimaculata).

Inspecting Damselflies
Inspecting Damselflies
Black-tailed Skimmer Female
Black-tailed Skimmer Female

In the shade of some willows we closely inspected male and female Banded Demoiselles (Calopteryx splendens) and some of the many Common Blue Damselflies (Enallagma cyathigerum).

Red-eyed damselfly (Erythromma najas)

Sue explained how to carefully net and hold these beautiful insects without damaging them. As we headed back along the River Churn, in a stretch of open water with some lily pads, we noticed several Red-eyed damselfly (Erythromma najas). The bright red eyes are amazing.

After about two and half hours, with the sky darkening, we headed back to the Jenner Hall. Luckily the thunderstorm started just as we arrived.

Heading back through Priors Ham

Our day concluded with a session on sources of identification information such as Sue’s website Shropshire Dragonflies and how to submit records using iRecord.

We must thank Sue for such a brilliant course which everyone really enjoyed as can be seen from some of the many positive feedback comments below:

Thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile experience. Delighted to be given a copy of Britain’s Dragonflies. Course tutor never less than enthusiastic and engaging, in short one of the best courses I have attended.”

I’ve had a really enjoyable day and learned a lot. I’m keen to put the knowledge gained into practice

A very enjoyable informative day. I learned a huge amount about damselflies and feel much more confident in identifying them. Excellent organisation, warm and welcoming atmosphere.

North Meadow is Open

North Meadow
North Meadow Entrance
North Meadow Entrance 4th June 2023

River levels are down to seasonal levels and Natural England lifted the temporary closure yesterday. The fritillary season is finished for this year and the hay crop is growing fast ready for the hay cut later this month.

Red Kite (Milvus milvus)

Large numbers of birds around today including a red kite overhead. Skylarks, Reed Buntings, Curlew, Meadow Pipets, Stonechats, Lapwings and Yellowhammers all nest on or close to the ground. To avoid disturbing these birds please stay on the marked paths and keep your dog on a short lead.