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Rare dragonfly found in Yarmouth library garden

PUBLISHED: 06:30 29 October 2011

Vagrant Emperor dragonfly spotted at Great Yarmouth Library.

Vagrant Emperor dragonfly spotted at Great Yarmouth Library.

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Volunteers who transformed a plot of barren wasteland outside a library into a wildlife haven are thrilled to have made Norfolk's first ever sighting of the rare vagrant emperor dragonfly there.

Grace Edwards, 64, of Alderson Road, Great Yarmouth, a regular volunteer at the new community garden at the town’s library, recalled the sunny morning earlier this month when she spotted a big dragonfly sunbathing on honeysuckle.

“I did not recognise it, but called over Caroline Fernandez, a staff member who had a camera, so we could photograph it,” she said.

The picture was filed away and no further thought was given to it until community librarian Peter Cawley sifted through photographs for an exhibition on library activities and came across it.

A wildlife lover and life member of the British Dragonfly Society, he said: “I was away on holiday when it was seen; as soon as I saw the photograph I thought, ‘what’s that?’ I knew it was one of the rare ones.”

Mr Cawley was thrilled when he did some research and discovered it was a vagrant emperor, an invader from Africa and the Middle East rarely sighted in Britain and never before in Norfolk.

The find was confirmed this week by Pam Taylor, of Potter Heigham, who is president of the British Dragonfly Society.

Mr Cawley said: “It is a fantastic coup for the garden, which was just an area of grass until volunteers started work on it in the past 18 months.”

The garden, which has flower beds and sculptures, is now a popular feature with visitors of all ages.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust had been involved in helping to make it a haven for wildlife.

He said: “They built a bug hotel and we have held creepy-crawly workshops which have been popular with children; we have already had other rare visitors including a hummingbird hawk-moth.”

Dr Taylor made an appeal in the EDP in late spring for people to look out for vagrant emperors, which had been spotted at that time in other parts of Britain.

They had travelled further north than normal after good winter rains around the Sahara led to a successful breeding season.

She said: “This late season dragonfly is likely to have been the progeny of early season invaders which stopped in the Mediterranean region.”

There had been other late-season sightings as far afield as Land’s End and Scotland – but this was the first ever to be seen in Norfolk.

She said: “This species shows just how amazing dragonflies can be because vagrant emperors come from as far away as Africa, the Middle East and south-west Asia.”

stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk

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