I love this time of year. The sunshine brings out the dragonfly population, and if you wander past any of the many ponds around campus you are bound to catch sight of them. There are two main types you'll see: damselflies (the tiny flitting lines of colour), and the much larger dragonflies.
I've previously posted pictures of the broad-bodied chasers down by the dew pond, but today I was delighted to see that the equally impressive emperor dragonflies were out in force. This shot is of a male.
The emperors are strong fliers, and the numbers this year are greater than I recall seeing before at Sussex, though others with longer memories may be able to correct that impression. Dragonfly nymphs can take up to two years to develop in the ponds before they emerge. And when they do they leave the husk (exuvia) of the nymph perched on vegetation. I saw this at the pond in the Arts A quad a few days ago.
The exit hole is just below the head, and the white tubes are part of the nymph's breathing system.
Much smaller than the major dragonflies, the damselflies are beautifully delicate and can normally be seen flitting among the vegetation at the edge of the ponds. There are numerous varieties, including blue-tailed, common blue, azure and large reds (all of which are around the campus). They can be tricky to identify, but this is a common blue female.
Finally, because I can't resist them, the herring gull chicks are appearing on the rooftops of various parts of the campus. I know that they are not the most liked of the campus birds, but it's worth mentioning that they are 'amber listed', which places them in the category of being a conservation concern. This is largely due to a decline in breeding sites.