Wednesday 13 July 2011

Wednesday 13th July

Today we went out with the Cairngorms biodiversity officer to look for dragon and damselflies to learn a bit more about them and their life cycle.  We had great weather for it as it was really sunny and hot and the damselflies were out in their masses even if the dragonflies were absent.  As we were trying to capture them with a net to identify them, birds were swooping down from above the loch and rainbow trout were jumping up from below also trying to catch them to fill their bellies.  The swifts were also swooping across the surface of the water with their beaks open grabbing a drink on the move before going back to capture more damselflies. 

We saw many different species including one which was only known to have come up as far north as Loch of the Lowes.  This was the Azure Damselfly.  It is a blue damselfly which can be identified by having a U shape on the abdominal segment 2, unlike the common damselfly which has a club shaped marking.  It was a great find and even better to know that this species is expanding its range and moving further north.  There has been a population of Azure damselflies identified at castle Fraser but it is thought that this must be a relic population. 

Other species we encountered were the Common Blue, Large Red, Emerald and the Blue-tailed Damselfly.  The latter we only saw in its larval form and could be distinguished by having no markings on its lamella (the three tail like structure on its rear).  Emerald larvae on the other hand had three vertical lines on their lamella.  Whilst pond dipping for damselflies we also caught a very large diving beetle larvae and spent a lot of time trying to avoid walking on the hundreds of tiny frogs and toads which had just emerged from the water.  All in all it was a good day, very informative and a lot of fun.

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