Banded Demoiselle

Calopteryx splendens

One of the most beautifully coloured creatures on the planet, the Banded Demoiselle is a must-see dragon every summer. In Gateshead (depending on what sort of a spring we have) they can appear from early June through July and early August.
A creature of slow-moving mud-bottomed streams, rivers and canals with open bank-sides and adjacent meadows, but will also breed in lakes adjacent to rivers. I've encountered them on many  stretches of the Derwent, but the most reliable site has invariably been at Hagg Hill, where they can appear in good numbers on a sun-drenched day, though best for photos has been Clockburn Lake outlet stream, where they are by no means guaranteed but if your luck's in one or two will give great views and photo opps. Also look around the shores of the lake, a male showed brilliantly in the flower meadow here in 2015.
They also inhabit the river Teams around Lamesley road bridge and the Kibblesworth Brickworks Pools area but that is the extent of my knowledge for other Gateshead sites. If anyone knows of other sites I would be happy to add them to the list.

Banded Demoiselle (male)
Unmistakeable with his bright green/blue metallic body and a rich
Prussian blue patch on the outer wings which are otherwise clear.
(size of wing patch varies, on this specimen it's quite small) 

Banded Demoiselle (female)
Metallic green body can only be mistaken for Emerald Spreadwing at first
glance, but the wings of the demoiselle are much larger, tinted green
and always held closed when resting. 
At suitable stretches of river, both males and females can be found perched on bankside vegetation, even overhanging trees. In flight they are very graceful, pushing themselves through the air with slow, deliberate wing-beats. At other times they are reminiscent of butterflies, with fluttering courtship displays and spiralling contests with rivals. But when there are high densities of males per female this turns to a frenzied chase at the breeding sites when there's a scramble for a female, with a 'Benny Hill' sequence as a string of males will follow a female up and down the river, great to watch.

Copulation takes around 90 seconds and ovipositing begins straight after, the pair separate but the male remains in close attendance. Eggs are laid into aquatic plant stems (both above and below the surface) and the female can often be totally submerged as she probes for suitable places to lay. An undisturbed female will lay for about 45 minutes, and eggs hatch after 14 days.
Larvae have a two year cycle, then travel well away from the water to emerge in shrubs and trees.

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