Upton Fen

Upton Fen (9 July 2016)

Brown HawkerBrown Hawker

Four-spot chaserFour-spot chaser

Bog myrtleBog myrtle

SnailBrown Lipped Snail

Marsh helleborineMarsh helleborine

Male Blue-tailed damselflyMale Blue-tailed damselfly

Black-tailed skimmerBlack-tailed skimmer

Azure damselflyAzure damselfly

Bog pimpernelBog pimpernel

Common emerald damselflyCommon emerald damselfly

Orchids, marsh lousewort,marsh helleborine and marsh fernOrchids,marsh lousewort,marsh helleborine and marsh fern

Female Emerald damselflyFemale Emerald damselfly

Great! A summer Saturday, and a walk to find dragonflies at Upton Fen in the warm sunshine; the vision, when arranging the programme about a year ago. Unfortunately, the weather didn't read the programme. Fourteen of us gathered at the NWT car park at Upton Fen for a 10am start, just as it started to rain. Perhaps not the best weather for odonata, but we had the advantage of Dr Pam Taylor to guide us, and she knows all about Upton Fen and about dragonflies.
We had a quick refresher course about how to distinguish the three types of blue damselflies found at Upton Fen - common, azure and variable, then found that the blue-tailed damselfly isn't actually a blue damselfly. That was the first species found around the turf ponds, followed by a Brown Hawker with its gold-coloured wings; then we added Common Darter, and four-spot Chaser. In one way, the damp weather was in our favour; the dragonflies were fairly torpid, and Pam was able to catch them to show in the hand; the method is to hold them, either by all three legs on one side(less than three and you are left with just legs in your fingers),or, for the larger species, by the folded wings, held nearest the thorax. Don't try handling Norfolk Hawkers - they are a protected species.
As we walked on, there were times when the rain ceased, but not for long. We followed the paths; there are parts of Upton Fen where there is water under seeming solid ground. There was a good display of flowers - early purple orchids in various shades,marsh lousewort, bog pimpernel and marsh helleborine. Pam showed us all three blue damselflies plus emerald damselfly.
At a junction in the path, some took the short cut back to the car park, the rest, determined to get the most out of our walk,continued the longer route. Soon after, of course, the rain really came on, and we were very damp by the time we reached the cars, without having seen much more.
Thanks to Pam for guiding us and finding dragonflies in rather wet conditions; it turned out that we saw eight species, which was only one less than Pam had found on a walk in sunshine the week before.

         Phragmites with raindrops"For the rain it raineth every day"