What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to simply stop, relax by a riverbank and watch trout rise. Watch that shoal of roach under the footbridge vie for position to grab the next snack or follow the antics of those exotic looking banded demoiselle dragonflies.
I leaned over the bridge to look down into the flowing stream, (as you do). The long strands of water crowfoot swayed in the current like a long cat's tail. Suddenly a flash of blue appeared as if from nowhere and a banded demoiselle flitted downstream for a few yards and then returned and settled on a reed.
I watched for a little while. It soon became apparent that it performed this same routine regularly. Sometimes while on a reed stem it would open its wings, flash that lovely wing pattern then sit awhile before taking that same flight downstream and back. Occasionally it would leap skywards and return with a small white moth in its mouth. There were plenty of other small flying insects about but it seemed to prefer these whatever they once were (difficult to tell when all that can be seen is the crunched up remains in its mouth).
As I watched, a newcomer flew upstream toward me. It was a golden dragonfly, I had no idea what kind it was (I am a bird man). It continued its flight upstream, under the bridge and was gone. I fancied I would never know what that was when yet another one appeared from the same direction. This time it caught sight of the blue banded demoiselle I had been watching and changed direction, had it been attracted by those open flashing wings?
Next moment they were both in the air together, the male landed on a reed stem and the female followed him. Aaaah, at last, the penny dropped. I never realised that the female banded demoiselle was golden and now their actions most certainly had cleared up that mystery.
After a while she said her goodbyes and landed on a nearby reed.
By this time I was sitting on the riverbank with my camera capturing all the comings and goings before me. As I focused on her, being careful to get her eyes in focus, I had not noticed the male demoiselle approaching her from behind and had still not realised it until I saw the image on the screen. I most certainly wanted to keep that image which captured the atmosphere of the occasion perfectly for me.
Eventually she did leave and the male returned to his routine patrol up and down that same area about 20 yards long. Clearly this was his territory and he defended it too. Only one other male demoiselle challenged him. There was a chasing and a clashing and one was driven off, almost certainly the challenger. Oddly a brown butterfly (too swift to identify) entered the area and this time that male demoiselle really went for it, chasing it away from the water, over a nearby bramble bush where I lost sight of them. Why would a demoiselle be so aggressive toward a butterfly? I really have no idea but what an informative, enjoyable two hours I had by that stream.
A passer-by might cast an eye down that stream, maybe notice a small blue damselfly and move on. How sad. What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.