Trustee David Chandler (pictured below) carried out the research in June, across a small part of the Essex-Suffolk site. He clocked up 276 individual dragons and damsels of nine species – including white-legged damselfly.
The white-legged damselfly is an uncommon species, though can be locally abundant in parts of southern England and Wales, according to the British Dragonfly Society. No other species in the UK has the white legs of the male and the pale, immature female cannot be mistaken for any other species.
‘In terms of national comparisons, Foxearth is a good site for dragonflies and damselflies,’ said David, ‘and our transects were confirming that.’
A transect is essentially a fixed route that is walked to survey what is there. An ecologist will follow that one route and count the species they are monitoring.
David set up his transects at Foxearth’s two big ponds, and by a small part of the River Stour. ‘Basically we walk a route and attempt to record all the mature dragonflies and damselflies we can see,’ he explained.
‘We’re beginning to establish our baseline data. We also have one or two people looking at other sites nearby. If we see any changes, we can have a better idea if it’s our management or if those changes are general.’
As well as being spectacular to watch, dragonflies can be good ecological indicators. Studying their numbers can reveal changes in water ecosystems more quickly than examining other animals or plants. In the UK there are 46 regularly occurring species.