The dragonfly's first flight

Today is my big week. After over four months in lockdown I am now allowed out. I can join everyone else. Except that I am not going to exactly, I don’t think it is safe enough for me to fully follow – not just yet anyway.

I have been at home watching wildlife and using the internet for shopping. But although I am nervous, I am venturing a little further. We have filled the car with petrol – a big adventure. I have not bought petrol for nearly half a year. My car has done several months per gallon because I have hardly used it.

The car clock was still set on wintertime and was an hour behind. Time has not really been important in complete lockdown and neither has cash. My debit card had to be searched out and as for my PIN number, well, that had to be dredged out from the very back of my mind.

I am moving on a little but nature is moving on in a big way. Dragonfly larvae, that have been lurking about in the mud at the bottom of the pond, are emerging (a bit like me). The larvae have spent many months under water and some will have been there years. August is a good month to see them. But you must get up early to watch this miraculous transformation from an ugly brown ‘creepy crawly’ into a beautiful dragonfly. Waking at six this morning, I saw that one had already crept up the stem of a reed. The brown skin of the larva was splitting and then, step by step, the whole pale dragonfly emerged. It gradually pumped up and, almost imperceptibly, it changed to a green colour and flew away into the sunshine.

Another emergence this week has been that of ants. It is the warm weather that stimulates their appearance. I can see them in a line along the front of the house. They are flying ants, big winged ones. The blackbird, still feeding nestlings, could not believe his luck at such easy pickings. He soon had a beak full to fill his baby birds’ gapes.

Other flying ants appeared in the house and were not as easy to dispose of. There were masses of them wobbling along in the corner of the sunroom with their black shiny wings. These are the males flying with the queen to set up a new colony, but they are not welcome inside.

Help was at hand. Our newly free roaming hen, Speckles, calmly came in through the open patio doors and ate the lot, then went on her way outside. Problem solved.

Now I am packing my case. On Saturday, we are heading for my family cottage, to spend a few days by the sea. We will be isolating just the same and staying in the car and house, but at least it will be a change of scene – through the window.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)



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