31 Jul
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A dragonfly hunt

Beyond the reservoir, which, covered with yellow and white water lilies, could be an impressionist painting, is the heath.

We are visiting Bystock Nature Reserve this morning and we have it to ourselves. It is a peaceful place, with a Yellowhammer singing ‘little bit of bread and no che-ese’ and a Green Woodpecker yaffling in the background.

We follow the boardwalk by the pools and our path is crossed by a tiny black Common Lizard, a juvenile. Then, a male Black-tailed Skimmer lands in front of us and soaks up the sun for a moment.

We wander aimlessly through the Gorse and Heather, the Bell Heather and Cross-leaved Heath, passing Small Heaths and Silver-studded Blue butterflies, then into the shade of the trees, where a couple of Exmoor ponies stand, surrounded by a buzzing cloud of flies.

Back at the reservoir, the water is now simmering with Large Red and Common Blue damselflies. Pairs of Emperor Dragonflies chase each other around the lake and as we cross the footbridge, a couple of Golden-ringed Dragonflies zip underneath us, like an unusual version of Pooh sticks.






  • Black-tailed Skimmer
  • Common Blue Damselfly
  • Dark Bush-cricket
  • Emperor Dragonfly
  • Golden-ringed Dragonfly


We parked by the reserve entrance next to the reservoir and followed the paths in a loop through the reserve. The path around the reservoir is suitable for buggies, but the paths in the heath are not suitable and as there was a lot of spiky vegetation overhanging the narrow paths I had to carry Izzy some of the time.

It is East Devon Heath Week this week, so there is plenty going on at Bystock.

Other places to see dragonflies

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