Last year we got our timings wrong and were unable to go down to Kent for some newly discovered damselfly colonies-Southern Emerald at Cliffe and Dainty Damselfly on Sheppy. This year the news has been pretty good, though in recent weeks the weather has been a bit hit and miss, but Saturday proved to be perfect.
We first went to the RSPB reserve at Cliffe. Our last visit was some time in the late 90's when it was still a mix of private and public rights of way, so it was interesting to see what has changed and what has not. The lagoons seem to have been tidied up a bit and were full of water-not much mud for returning migrant waders, but like all RSPB reserves they were full of Avocets. Little Egrets everywhere of course-last time we actually had to make a special diversion to see one here!
Not much else around apart from a loafing first summer Yellow Legged Gull and on the return a purring Turtle Dove.
The trek from the car park to the ditches was a bit long and warm-shame really as we could have driven up. We joined a couple and another guy who had already found a male Southern Emerald, but it had been lost a while before we arrived. Lots of Scarce Emeralds and Blue Tails, as well as vocal Marsh Frogs. Took a while but eventually we got a call and were directed to a female Southern Emerald low down in the reeds. Not easy to photograph. Luckily not long after some others arrived, a male flew out and posed quite well for us, though the breeze was annoying.
The Dainty Damselflies found at a private site last year on Sheppy were the first seen in the Uk since they became extinct after the 1953 floods. Over the last few weeks a number have been reported from a public site, but many have had a frustrating time with long fruitless searches.
We arrived in the early afternoon and met up with a couple I know from Amwell. They and others had found a number of males in the grass some way from the water, but it was not easy. It took us, and two others nearly an hour before we found a female, and over the subsequent hour or so, another two females were found-one male was glimpsed but flew before we got the cameras lined up.