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Insects In Flight

Friday, September 25th 2020

One of our frequent visitors, Andrew Gillings,  set himself the task of photographing a dragonfly in flight. This is quite a challenge as dragonflies are amongst the fastest and most manoeuvrable flying insects.

Hawker dragonflies have a top speed of about 36km/hour and damselflies about 10km/hour; they can flap their wings at about 30 beats per second.

As well as forward flight, dragonflies are able to fly sideways and backwards and to change both the direction and speed of flight rapidly.

The wings of dragonflies are not flat. Some parts of the wings are more flexible than others due to the arrangement of their wing-veins. This clever design allows the wing to twist and adapt its shape in flight.

Andrew watched two darters ovipositing (egg laying) and was fascinated as they appeared to flick an egg from a few inches above the water which created significant downwash on the surface. If you look carefully at the next picture you can actually see the egg landing!

Immediately after this shot, a Southern Hawker appeared from nowhere and seemed to attack them hitting them several times.  A Southern Hawker had already dropped what looked like a mayfly on a previous flypast so perhaps it saw them as an alternative dinner! This is not surprising as adult dragonflies prey on insects, especially small flies and larger species will also take butterflies and smaller dragonflies. The wings are bitten off and discarded, but the rest of the body is eaten.


Away from the water, Andrew decided to capture a less gruesome and more serene image of a Brimstone butterfly in flight. He was concentrating on the Brimstone so much that he only noticed a bee flying in formation when he put the pictures on his laptop!

Our thanks to Andrew for sharing these incredible photographs, he definitely achieved his goal!


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The Friends of Foxglove Covert is for those individuals, families and organisations who would like to support the reserve through an annual membership subscription. Friends receive a regular newsletter and invitations to attend our various activities and social events.

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Pumpkin Trail

Wednesday 21st October 2020 | During Opening Times

Come to the reserve over half term and enjoy the autumn colours on the red route (Easy Access Trail) and search for the pumpkin clues along the way. Test your knowledge of the creatures associated with Halloween by answering the fun quiz which is available from the visitor centre for only 50p.

No need to book, come and enjoy some fresh air with your family bubble. Don't forget your wellies and a pencil!



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The Dragonflies of Strensall and Foxglove Covert
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This book has been published with the aim of enabling people visiting these, immensely important Flagship Pond Sites in North Yorkshire, to identify the dragonflies and damselflies they encounter - by reference to a simple text and photographs. Credits - Yorkshire Dragonfly Group & Freshwater Habitats Trust

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