There is no wonder how the Azure damselfly got it’s name, just look at that colouring! The large ponds we have here at Rowden lend themselves to spotting these striking damselflies who can be found around almost any waterbody. There are seven species of small blue damselflies in the UK which can be tricky to tell apart. The main area to focus on when distinguishing these species is the pattern on the second segment of the males’ abdomen, just behind the thorax. In the Azure damselfly, this segment is blue with a black U-shape.
Interestingly when damselflies (and dragonflies) first emerge they are often duller in colour, a state known as ‘teneral’, and it can take a few days for them to change into their brilliant hues. For example, Azure damselflies are a creamy coloured when they first emerge, turning bright blue later on.
Four-spotted Orb Weaver
We have enjoyed having many grasshoppers on our land this summer and with them has come the Four-spotted Orb Weaver spiders who build their elaborate webs close to the ground preying on small grasshoppers – one of their favourite fare!
The Four-spotted Orb Weaver is a large spider and, although other species have much longer legs, the Four-spotted Orb Weaver is the heaviest spider in the UK due to their sizeable abdomens.
Adult females can actively change their colour. It takes them about three days to take on colours that accurately match their resting surface and this means that the colour variations we come across can assort vastly.
We captured this photo of a Golden-Ringed Dragonfly enjoying our pastures and recent sunshine. With it’s striking markings and impressive size (it is one of the UK’s longest dragonflies) this dragonfly was a captivating find for us.
Golden-Ringed Dragonflies are voracious predators and often even pray on smaller dragonflies. We are right in the middle of their flying season at the moment and are hoping to find some more on our land before the season finishes.
Common Green Grasshopper
The sound of the Grasshopper is one most associated with hot sunny days yet a noteworthy fact is that adult Grasshoppers can survive into November. This one, a Common Green, certainly looked to be doing well whilst stopping in the sunshine that we have been enjoying.
Grasshoppers live in fields, long grasses, and anywhere there is a good source of food meaning we have spotted many across our farm, often springing up impressively from tall grass as we wade through it. Not only are Grasshopper’s a joy to watch but they also play essential ecological roles as a food source for rare or declining birds like skylarks, grey partridges, cirl buntings, corncrakes, and common cranes. They are also a food source for beetles, mice, snakes, and spiders.