A weekend of fantastic weather was capped by some special garden visitors; the most spectacular was a common aeshna dragonfly (Aeshna juncea).
For me there are few more exciting sights in the garden than that of a large dragonfly paying a visit. You can see these conspicuous creatures almost anywhere when they are dispersing in late summer, but it was a special treat to see one so early. When it turned up, the garden was full of people - 20 or so of them, but these creatures seem to be fearless. First it landed on the arm of one of our guests and I was able to get close enough to touch it. Next it landed on my forehead with its abdomen suspended over my eye - so close I could not even focus on it! It briefly hawked around the pond and then was gone. I long for more of them to show up.
Meanwhile more evidence of damselflies using the pond to breed came to light today in the shape of another spent larval carapace on some bog bean (Menyanthes trifoliata
A particularly dark looking wasp struggling on the surface of the pond first gave me the impression of being a male, but I realised that it's a bit early to be seeing males: we haven't really had that many workers around yet. I offered it my finger and it gladly accepted. As it briefly dried itself on my finger I was able to get a good look at the patterning on the abdomen and the face and I reckon it was a norwegian wasp (Dolichovespula norwegica
). After a few second preening, it was gone. (See the feature article Wasps
for help on identifying wasps.)