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Hidden Jewel Damselflies revisit the Pamuzinda Safari Lodge!

~ Zambezi Cruise and Safaris

Back in December I posted a Blog on the Dancing Jewel Damselfly. At the time I had only ever seen two of them, both males. One here at Pamuzinda Safari Lodge and the other at our sister Lodge, Chengeta.

Male Dancing Jewel Damselfly in full breeding colours.

Chance to catchup:-

As a recap for those who missed it, the essence was that this is an extremely attractive insect and I had only ever seen the two males. The Blog ended with my fervent wish to at least see, and preferably also photograph, a female. I also made mention of the fact that the species name was derived from an unusual courtship display. The male hovers in front of the female and waggles his legs and his backside in a provocative manner. In modern parlance it would probably be called “dad dancing”.

And then there were three!

That I should ever have the good fortune to witness this display never crossed my mind. I did, however, frequent that part of the river, here at Pamuzinda, where I had seen the one male. I found him enough times to be able to more or less predict his whereabouts. My delight was compounded one day to find that, in total, there were three males in the same vicinity. I managed to persuade two of them to pose together but, try as I did, I could not get the third one to join in!

Success at last.

Then, one day, one of my Ridgebacks, running along the bank, “put up” a dragonfly. Had the dog not disturbed it, I probably would not have seen it. Fortunately it then landed on one of my pre-placed “Dragonfly perches”, with which I have peppered the river bank. Fortunately I was able to get close enough to get a good look at it. Coloured almost exactly the same as the perch it landed on it was difficult to be certain. It definitely looked like my mental vision of a female Dancing Jewel. Of course “wishful thinking” often plays a major role in some species identifications, so I could not be certain. I managed to photograph it anyway. This meant that I could check it out later when my reference library was within reach. It subsequently proved, indeed, to be the object of my dreams. I thought that was about as good as it could get.

After much searching and gnashing of teeth this was, finally, my first view of an adult female Dancing Jewel in breeding condition.
Things got better the next day when I found her laying eggs on some underwater vegetation.

How lucky can you get?

Of course I checked the area regularly for the next few days but never saw the female again. The male, though, was still using his favourite perches. Then, one day, I spotted him acting oddly on a strange perch right out in a fast flowing part of the stream. He seemed to be leaping up and down in the air. Much the same way as I had wanted to when I first saw the female. Then, unbelievably and on the wing, he did exactly as “it said on the tin” and fanned his legs. They looked like a white blur. Further he waggled his abdomen in what I suppose, to a female of the species, would be a suggestive and attractive manner. I thanked Mr Nikon from the bottom of my heart for the efficacy of his equipment and managed to get the accompanying shots.

This part of the dance demands a certain “wiggle”.
This part calls for a definite “waggle”.
OK Madam. It’s “make your mind up time – how did I do?”

Greedy for more, I went back the following day in the hopes of a repeat performance. I found them without too much trouble but there was no “Ring around the Roses” taking place. He had probably danced himself to a standstill yesterday but today had a different duty. This time he was standing guard over his lady as she laid eggs in a number of supposedly likely places. Once again I thanked Mr Nikon and clicked away.

I must add that, despite checking on numerous occasions, I have never seen a repeat performance. Although I can still pin down the male on most occasions, I have only seen a female two or three times since. I have, however, been fortunate enough to photograph a young male halfway through colouring up. It looks as though the future is secure here for this species!

Nil desperandum.

I make a point of trying to show the adult male to all those partaking in our Insect and Flower Photography Walks. It is, in no uncertain terms, an incredibly attractive insect. I am successful more times than not, though the recent heavy rain wreaked havoc with the river banks. The mating Dance, unfortunately, I have not been able to show. Walkers have had to settle for looking at my images. “Hope springs eternal”, however. If you are thinking of joining us on one of our walks then yours could be the occasion on which we strike lucky!!

Brian Pettit.

wildlifepics@ntlworld.com

www.naturepicturesworldwide.com

Zambezi Cruise and Safaris

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