Beautiful Demoiselle

A day spent recording NVC quadrats in the rides and glades of Shenley Wood in Milton Keynes. Alex and I kept up a steady pace, despite the weather feeling quite threatening at times,  and managed to complete 25, which should make our final day of survey relatively short.

Our last three quadrats were along an east-west ride which was bathed in the afternoon sun. The ride side vegetation was rather rank, with abundant bramble and hogweed, but the structure seemed to be particularly suitable for invertebrates, with many species of butterfly courting and fighting (including white admiral), and several species of dragonfly and damselfly perching on the overhanging trees, making forays to catch passing insects. 

Alex spotted the damselfly in my main image, which I quickly identified as a Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo. This is not a species I see often - in fact it's probably over twenty years since I last saw one. It has a generally south-westerly distribution and tends to breed in fast flowing streams with gravelly bottoms. As far as I know, it's never been recorded from Shenley Wood before, though a couple of years ago it was found to be established in the Ouse Valley Park, just over 5 kilometres to the north-west. 

I think the female is probably the more attractive of the two sexes, having coppery wings that positively glow in the sunshine. But the males (see extra) are quite handsome too, and also live up to their name!

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