I am currently enjoying a wonderful internship with Perthshire Wildlife. Over the summer I have helped out with guided walks, researched wildlife-friendly businesses, helped with data input and taken part in wildlife surveys. One of my favourite surveys involved looking for rare damselflies.
In mid-October, Daniele and I travelled to ponds in North-East Scotland where endangered Northern Damselfly larvae have been spotted, so that we could assess numbers and recommend management improvements to keep increasing their population. Prior to meeting up with Daniele, I had little to no knowledge about fully grown dragonflies/damselflies, let alone their larvae! However, learning about these wee critters was such an enjoyable experience and I now can’t imagine a better way to spend a week than getting to explore the beautiful Scottish countryside looking for some rare damselfly larvae!
The first pond Daniele and I visited was at Castle Fraser, where we met up with two countryside rangers to get stuck into some pond sampling and discuss further developments needed for the pond. Daniele was very helpful in explaining to everyone the difference between damselfly and dragonfly larvae, as well as helping us to identify different species of larvae. The trip was off to a great start as within a few minutes of pond sampling we were finding a good number of Northern Damselfly larvae!
The next day was a bit more of a wilderness adventure as we headed off to survey ponds near Aboyne. Crossing into moorlands, we were getting to some very overgrown ponds. Northern Damselflies are best suited to medium-sized ponds, with vegetation only covering about half the pond as to allow for some open water. However, despite the poor condition of the ponds, Daniele and I were still able to find an impressive number of Northern Damselfly larvae. Whilst surveying one pond, we followed an outflow that connected to a previously undiscovered pond where we were delighted to find many more Northern Damselfly larvae. However, Corrie, our collie helper, didn’t seem too impressed.
Management planning is very important in making sure that the population of Damsels and Dragons remains healthy and encourages the population growth of rare species, such as Northern Damselfly. It was the enthusiasm behind those working to keep their natural habitats in the best conditions, as provided through Daniele’s management plans, that means we will all be able to enjoy seeing these magical Northerns flying about next summer.