On Saturday we walked beside the Bybrook, a beautiful and unspoilt stream about 4 miles from here. The air was hot and heavy and there was little breeze-perfect to witness the astonishing aerial displays by the Mayflies. We did not see them emerge, but thousands were on the wing and away from the river, underneath oak trees-and it seemed only to be oak trees, they created a spectacular dance, flapping their wings to gain height and then parachuting down gracefully, tail streamers at right angles to their bodies, wings used as gliders, before flying up again, and repeating the dance over and over. They only live in the emerged form for a day, mating, egg laying and dying within 24 hours after spending up to 2 years in the water developing. This one was already gone. It was joy to see their ballet.
At several places the path lies close to the stream and there were many Beautiful Demoiselles, a species of Damselfly, on the wing. They are exquisitely coloured-the males are emerald with turquoise bodies, the females green and bronze.
During last week I was watching the BBC’s Springwatch series and saw Simon King persuade a dragonfly to perch on the tip of a stick he was holding. For fun, we thought we would have try, using a walking pole as a stick. It worked a treat first time, and we were able to get some great close up views of the damselflies. Certainly a tip to remember. It’s worth enlarging the photo of the male on the right-he’s especially awesome.