Saturday, August 21, 2004

Dragon Flies in a very Wet Summer

This week I was quite surprised to see dragon flies buzzing around my back garden. This might be the first time I have ever seen them here, and they must be attracted to my little pond, which has reached just about the perfect organic balance this year. I was checking out Garden Safari, and they seem to be Hawkers, about 2.5 to 3 inches long. They must be the Migrant Hawkers, because I can't believe such large dragon flies could have emanated from my tiny pond, where the hungry Goldfish and Koi pretty much scour the pond clean of bugs.

Their visit must have something to do with this extraordinary wet weather we are having this August. I have never seen a summer on the Wanstead Flats, where the long wild grass was so damp. Usually, every year, bored schoolchildren set fire to the grass in patches, just to await the visit of Fire Engines. These fires are not actually desirable for the wildlife. What can I say, except that kids in East London are reflections on their parents, who usually have no respect for Wildlife and Greenery. Last Summer, which was the hottest driest summer on record, one of these fires was the biggest I ever did see here. There are quite a few dead large hawthorns that stand as evidence of this, near the south side of Alexandra Pond (the pond alongside the Aldersbrook road).

In fact, the amount of wildlife in this area has noticeably declined in the last ten years. I haven't seen a hedgehog in years; the magpies don't nest nearby anymore, and blackbirds don't nest in the back garden either.

People don't seem to care anymore, either. It does seem that the Back to Nature movement of the Sixties is also dying of old age, alongside with all the liberal ideals and problems that arose from that generation.


Astolath said...

It's a testament to our declining wildlife I suppose, that the most I've seen recently were on the road on a trip to Wales. My first sighting of a real Badger was roadkill and I spent the rest of the drive (over night), trying to avoid hedgehogs (got one unfortunately), rabbits, foxes and cats.

Got two, but managed to avoid about half a dozen.

Magpies and foxes seem abundant in SE London, but I've not yet seen a Dragonfly...

Andy said...

It's interesting where your observations differ from my own, since the habitats observed are very similar I think.
For instance, I have a hedghog who regularly patrols my back garden after dark, and the number of types of birds that visit has increased since a neighbour planted a native birch tree a few years ago and this is already quite large.
The visiting dragonflies, I don't think are related to this year's wet summer because they had increased last year as well, along with more damselflies. I first noticed them two or three years ago i think. The only marked decline I notice is the sparrows, who used to nest in my eaves and move about in flocks of 10-20 but are now rarely seen apart from the odd couple.
Bats are still flying over at dusk as well. Perhaps micro-environments can vary greatly depending on relatively arbitrary factors such as the arrival of a new cat in the neighborhood or an adjoining gardener's use of 'slug death'