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Tuesday 18 August 2020

Magical creatures at the Graemsay quarry.


There are no lochs on Graemsay but we do have the old quarry.  The stone from the quarry would have gone to build houses, byres and other uses over the years.  Now it is filled with water and provides a lovely habitat for all sorts of water beetles and other insects.  The most magical of which, to me, are the damselflies.  Thanks are due to Graeme of Imperfect & Tense for introducing us on the island to these ephemeral creatures.  In recent years he has identified both Common Blue and Blue-Tailed damselflies breeding at the quarry.  I've also been lucky to see them too.

But this week, oh the joy!  EMERALD damselflies are there too! OK they are quite common in most of Britain but dragon and damsel flies are more unusual in Orkney given the additional challenges of weather, habitat etc.  For some reason I love the emeralds the best - having seen them on Hoy a year or so ago.  But ahem... my preconceptions got in the way and I merrily sent Graeme photos declaring they were of a female blue-tailed damsel.  I couldn't quite believe it when he said they were Emeralds!! (I've always preferred them to diamonds....). So here are a few photos of a male Emerald damselfly... (well possibly two... they were flitting about in the warm sunshine doing what they needed to do in the short window of opportunity it was hard to count and keep up with them, never mind take photos!)

Clinging on for dear life!

Oh you little beauty (about the size of your average large matchstick!)

I've been up there each day since and although they have been flitting about I've been unable to take photos.  But as you can see, it's a lovely place to sit and spend a while communing with nature....

A lot of the wild flowers have "gone over" but the heather is looking beautiful just now...

Yellow rattle - when the flower goes to seeds the pods look like a child's rattle and sounds the same when shaken (well ok a very quiet rattle).

And the view from the quarry is pretty special too.  Looking towards Hoy, and on Graemsay the old croft of Dean... with the old school away to the right...

So in warm sunny weather, when there is no wind, I may be found on the grass gazing into the reeds looking for magical creatures....


  1. They're a sign of high summer, to me. You're lucky to have such beautifully colored ones!

  2. Beautiful damsels! Too often we fail to see nature's beauty.

  3. Congratulations on your discovery! And my personal thanks for the lengths you go to in monitoring Graemsay's flora and fauna.

  4. What Mr Tense doesn't know about Odanata isn't worth knowing!

  5. Beautiful pictures as ever. I have island envy...