Faeries at the bottom of the (pub) garden

A hard morning in Cambridge, helping elder daughter move….on a day of intense humidity, oppressive heat, after several similar days, as yet unrelieved by a decent thunderstorm. So what were we to do other than drop in to one of our favourite pubs, the Shoulder of Mutton in Aldham, for a well-earned drink on the way home.

Sitting in the garden, flanked by the River Colne, here only three or four metres across, we soon noticed the wraith-like forms of Banded Demoiselles fluttering over the river, resting on bankside trees, and flying all around us, favouring patches of nettles and long grass on which to settle. Just a few females, green and demure in a glossy sort of way, but hordes of males, gossamer wings with ink-spots; shining blue body; wing attachment points highlighted in red.

Too sticky to walk far, but a potter downriver of just a couple of hundred metres revealed the scale of the emergence: today must have been ‘Peak Demoiselle’. Dozens of them were on the wing, and spreading well away from their normal riverine environs. And humid warmth clearly did it for many other invertebrates as well. The undergrowth was teeming with life, with soldier, cardinal and leaf beetles, weevils, ladybirds, picture-winged flies, hoverflies, crab spiders and scorpion-flies to name just a few of the myriad of critters we saw and photographed. Enjoy this virtual ramble down the River Colne!