Regular correspondent Bob emailed a picture of a Damselfy he was having trouble identifying. The difficulty with Damselflies is that usually the male, female and immature examples are very different and are sometimes available in multiple colour forms beyond that. But also some species are remarkably similar and hard to pick apart.

However after a bit of a hunt I'm pretty sure it is either a female Azure damselfly or female Common blue damselfly (though the pictures on that last link don't show it, due to aforementioned variations).

Apparently the female Azure damselfly "can be distinguished from females of the Common blue damselfly by the absence of a spine below the 8th abdominal segment". Unfortunately the photo doesn't lend itself to making that judgement and I'm not entirely sure what to look for anyway, being unfamiliar with such spines. It can get pretty technical and into the really fine detail apparently! Are there any insect experts out there who can help?

Update: Thanks to S Barton who posted a comment with this great BBC page which has a couple of very clearly described and illustrated tips to tell Azure from Common blue. And with its help, our picture above is clearly an Azure.

29. May 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Birds, News

Well, actually several moments/weeks too late if you ask me what my definition of Spring is!

The team are back on BBC 2 at 8pm in the evenings, having started yesterday. Can you believe the weather's been so good that I've been outdoors of an evening and missed all the trails on TV that presumably heralded its imminent arrival. Get your fix from the BBC Springwatch website.

This evening I watched a small Kingfisher pop out seven eggs that seemed to add up to more than its total volume. Apparently it actually took a week over it and the images were therefore a shade misleading, but still very impressive regardless. I'm pretty sure I couldn't do that. Egg laying has never been a strong suit of mine.

This medium-sized moth was on the train window this morning (on the inside) so I grabbed a quick picture. But what is it? I have confidence that an answer will be forthcoming via Twitter in 5..4..3..2..

My what lengthy antennae you have! This must be a male Green longhorn moth (Adela reaumurella) sitting on an ivy leaf. The caterpillars are apparently more interested in decomposing leaves, of which there were plenty on the ground beneath. Intriguingly, UK Moths' page on it says the caterpillar lives in a portable case. This I must see.


I found this handsome brute of a beetle crawling through my train carriage this morning. You can just see First Capital Connect's lovely seat fabric on the right. At 30mm long and very heavily built, I imagine this Cockchafer (for that is what it is) would have scared the beejesus out of some commuters, but I coaxed it onto some paper so I could lift it up and get a good photo. Then I freed it through the window.

This next picture is a bit blurry but shows some key features rather well when seen in profile: the very fat body; the white sawtooth pattern peeking out from under the wing cases; the pointy pygidium; the antennae with fans of leaves.



I speculated a little while back on whether many bugs would struggle because of the endless downpours of the last month or two. The BBC comes along with an answer: yes, especially honeybees and butterflies. Bumble bees are however a more 'native' species and adapted to our climate and survive better. And it hardly needs mentioning that slugs and snails are having a field day. Don't my Hostas know it!

Apparently the early bird catches several worms. Or a single very big one folded up.

I just realised I don't have a blog category for worms. I had to look it up but they're annelids (not molluscs for instance) but I can't bring myself to create a category just for that. Any suggestions?

Here are some things I've noticed recently:

  • It's still wet. Very wet, but at least we get the odd half day of respite, and sometimes even a full day before it tips it down again.
  • Birds are flocking back to garden feeders over the last week or two, at least in my garden. Blue tits, Great tits, Chaffinches and Robins in particular. They were notably absent for the month or so before. Is is the wet weather that's forcing them to the feeders?
  • Plants are springing up at a ferocious rate. The wet and warm weather with occasional bursts of sunshine seems to be just perfect for rapid growth.
  • There aren't so many bees, wasps and butterflies to be seen since the droughtmonsoon began, presumably because the weather is keeping them off the wing.
  • Ants don't seem to be especially phased by the weather.