I spent a lovely day in the river with the Wildlife Tots! We started off floating our paper boats down the river.
Followed by river dipping with nets to try and find out who lives in the river under the stones. We caught a few mayfly nymphs, shrimps and caddisfly larvae plus a rather hairy dragonfly nymph. We were a bit short on the fish front but did manage to find a couple of bullheads and some rather smart male minnow displaying their brilliant breeding colours.
As I ate lunch by the Centre pond I noticed an emperor dragonfly exuvia clinging to one of the plants in the centre of the pond. Then as I looked I noticed more and more of them, covering the plants all around the edge of the pond. Ed counted a total of 33 exuviae!
After spending a few years feeding and growing in the pond the warm weather that the nymphs were all waiting for has finally arrived over the last few days and they have crawled up the plants and out of the water. The emergence of the emperor dragonfly is synchronised as it is triggered by the change in day length and increase in temperature. Once secured on the plants they pull themselves out of their skins through a hole on their back to reveal their adult form, complete with wings. The white strings you see are the white tracheal tubes that the nymph used to transport oxygen. The photo also clearly shows the dragonfly nymphs hinged jaw that it used to catch its prey during its aquatic life.
Unfortunately a few of the dragonflies had failed to successfully emerge and were floating in the pond. A couple of diving beetles were taking advantage of this tasty meal.
I found one skin that was completely empty; it had been sucked dry.
Elsewhere on the reserve there were large red, azure, common blue and blue tailed damselflies and a beautiful demoiselle flying on the path up to Ivy north hide and a small cooper was seen in the meadow on the approach.