I fulfilled a small ambition yesterday.
I have for some time tried to find and photograph the Brilliant Emerald dragonfly. It ‘s a Ronseal insect, doing exactly what it says on the tin: it is brilliantly emerald. So, since the weather has finally graced us with something other than rain, I thought I’d give it another go. It’s an acid pool lover, so if you want to see it your options are limited to Scotland, or to a cluster of small colonies in the heathlands of the southeast. Having tried Warren Heath, the nearest location to my home, last year, this time I went to the Basingstoke canal. It’s unusual for a canal to be both placid and acidic, but the Basingstoke canal between Aldershot and Farnham is exactly that – very slightly tea-coloured, and peaceful and serene in the gaps between the whining, thundering roars of aircraft taking off from nearby Farnborough Airport.
I have never seen so many fish in a canal, including at one point a foot-long young pike who look spoiled for choice in the meals department. I kept looking for kingfisher, but like so many canals, this section lacked the high muddy banks that the birds need to nest in, and there was not some much of a tweet of one – much to the relief, I expect, of the local anglers.
I saw the Brilliant Emerald with moments of arriving, out over the water, a jewel hanging from glittering golden wings. It’s one of those species, like the Kingfisher, that makes you wonder about evolution. Bar strapping an anti-collision light to it, you couldn’t make it more obvious, and I was suddenly grateful for the relative lack of birdsong along the canal sides, because I expect they would takes these beautiful insects at once. Or maybe it’s a double-bluff: many brilliantly-coloured insects are that way to act as warning that they are toxic or poisonous. Perhaps the BE is bluffing and hoping that such an obviously bright dragonfly will be left alone.
Either way, here it is: a male Brilliant Emerald dragonfly pausing for breath, the result of three years of effort for me. Was it worth it? Oh yes.