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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Of damsels and dragons (Part 3)

Once word got around that there were damselflies at the quarry, neighbours started keeping an eye out and reporting sightings too.  Given the new enthusiasm for these wee insects, I asked Graeme of Tense Towers if, in his capacity of damsel/dragonfly biodiversity recorder and Orkney Field Club volunteer, he would like to come out to Graemsay and give us a talk.  He gamely agreed to do so,  and he and Herself came over last Friday night.

Given it is a bit of a niche subject I had warned Graeme that it might be a small audience. I knew some of the children were interested as they had seen dragons and damsels on Hoy and were keen to learn more, so I thought half a dozen folk might turn up.  In the end we had quite a few more - 83.3(recurring) percent of the population turned up!  Everyone was really interested in hearing what Graeme had to say.  We were mostly starting from zero knowledge so he had to begin with basics but folk listened intently, old and young alike.

Graeme illustrated his talk with lots of slides to show us all the different species of dragon and damselflies, although not all will be found in Orkney, and so far Graemsay has only 2 species.  But that's two more than we knew we had last year!!

Graeme's enthusiasm was infectious.... though we didn't all wave our arms about. NO idea what he is demonstrating here?  The flight of the dragonfly that travels all the ways from West Africa maybe?

There were also explanations of the kind of habitat to look for them, and photos of our quarry and descriptions of the areas where they have been seen.  As well as explanations and photos of how the larvae transform into an adult dragon/damsel.  Apparently one species can breathe out of its bottom. The audience were unimpressed with this feat.  Not sure what that says about us really...maybe move along from that thought for now....

And of course with any good presentation there is a practical session.  Here is Graeme demonstrating the "Homework" with one he made earlier in true Blue Peter fashion (that's a long running children's programme with rockets made out of washing up bottles etc).

 Anyway coloured pipe cleaners and pony beads (yup that's what he said....) were produced and the younger members of the audience had a go at creating a dragonfly (they were big so I'm guessing they were dragons....).

Then there was time for questions and onto the supper.  Because this is Graemsay and there is always a supper!  This time provided by Michelle Mowat.  There was quite a spread and I didn't take any photos because I was too busy making sure I ate the last donut..... sorry about that.  But take it from me it was good.....the supper.... well and the donut!

The enthusiasm carried over the next day with folk going up to the quarry to take another look.  It's coming towards the end of the season now but next year I think we'll all be ready to search for more of these ephemeral creatures.


  1. Wonderful!!! Thank you for your 'dissertation' about the damsel and dragonflies. Such a beautiful shade of blue [would make a glorious colour if redecorating the bathroom].
    Just as well my son-in-law wasn't there ... he would have eaten that donut ... quickly and quietly!!

  2. What a great trilogy, makes me want to go out looking for them, even more so with the reward if a doughnut.

  3. I bet those few who didn't turn up for this engaging talk are now sorry.