When I first started working at Fen Drayton Lakes in November 2015 I commented that willow emerald damselfly must occur on the site, as the habitat looks perfect. Now, just under two years later, I can confirm that the species is present on site. Today I searched for, and found, a single willow emerald damselfly on Holywell Pond. This species is a fairly recent colonist of the UK and is currently spreading westwards from Suffolk and Norfolk, where it was first discovered breeding in the UK. They can be found around ponds, lakes and slow flowing rivers which possess overhanging willow. They are most easily seen during August and September and often spend much time among willows by the water. The female lays her eggs in the stems of willow and the eggs overwinter, with the larvae dropping into the water below and then developing within just three months. A very dainty and beautiful damselfly, which is a welcome addition to our reserve species list.

Willow emerald at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen - Photo credit: Hugh Venables