What wildlife to look for in May 2017
We are enjoying a fantastic period of weather. The warm weather has encouraged leaves to appear on the hawthorn, blossom on the Blackthorn, lots of queen bumblebees and good numbers of common butterflies. My first Swallows of the season were seen on the coast on Sunday (9th April). This feels a little later than usual despite the excellent weather. Here is hoping that there is no sting in the tail with the weather. My father was recounting the tale of 1957 when there was over a foot of snow in a day in the middle of April followed by a very sudden thaw. Many lambs were lost not through the cold but the flooding that caused havoc afterwards.
Species of the month: Damselflies
There are three very common damselflies that appear in May and June and can be found throughout the summer and into the autumn. All three species are easily recognisable: Large red damselfly, Common blue damselfly and Blue-tailed damselfly.
Large red damselfly: Often the earliest dragonfly or damselfly to appear, it is relatively easy to identify being red and black, with the black legs. It can be found alongside rivers, ditches, ponds and wetlands. It sometimes visits gardens especially where there is suitable habitat. It is one of the earliest damselflies to emerge.
Common blue damselfly: This damselfly is on the wing from May – September (occasionally October). It shares its blue and black colouration with several other species. It can be distinguished from the others by its broad ante-humeral stripes and all blue side to the thorax. The male’s segment 2 has a characteristic mark of a spot linked to the inter segment suture by a short line. Segment 8 and segment 9 are entirely blue. The female occurs in two colour forms, one blue, as in the male, the other dull green. The mark on segment 2 is thistle shaped and there is a “Christmas tree” shaped stepped triangle on segment 8. They often perch gregariously on emergent plant stems, all facing the same way. It occurs in alongside most waters and is usually the most abundant species.
Blue-tailed damselfly: This common damselfly is on the wing from May to September. The male always have a blue spot at the “tail” (segment 8), blue ante-humeral stripes on the thorax and blue eyes. The female varies with at least 5 different colour forms. When mature the female may be blue (like the male) in the form “typica”, olive green thorax and brown spot in the form “infuscans” or pale brown thorax and brown spot in the form “infuscans-obseleta”. It is found in a very wide range of lowland habitats including brackish or polluted water where it may be the only species present
Send all sightings to: Ian & Keith Davison, The Bungalow, Branton, Powburn, NE66 4LW Or by email to email@example.com
If you have wildlife queries you can email them to redsquirrel@alnwickwildlife group.co.uk – and they will be forwarded to an appropriate member who will try to answer them. No promises, mind – none of us are great experts!