Conservation in action on Styal Estate

Here at Quarry Bank we don’t just look after historic buildings, we also care for the huge estate that comprises of the Northern and Southern Woods, donated to us along with the Mill, in 1939.  The estate is managed by our dedicated team of Rangers and volunteers, who protect and restore these beautiful grounds. Part of their job is to ensure the conservation of the flora and fauna, and this week, our volunteer ranger Derek Hatton, (who also acts as a volunteer photographer for us), snapped these gorgeous shots of an Emperor Dragonfly whilst he was out and about. Derek explains why the photograph, and the dragonfly, are so important…

The Emperor Dragonfly, anax imperator family odonata,is the largest European insect . Until recent times the species was only seen in Southern England and some midland counties but has recently spread northwards . As a pioneer species it may occur at a high density at a new site for a few years before becoming less common or disappearing altogether .

The species was seen in the Upper Garden at Styal in 2012 . One of our Volunteer Rangers (Derek Hatton) observed females laying eggs (ovipositing) in the Dipping Pond. As the pond was being drained for restoration work the decision was taken to relocate the weed where egg laying took place to the pond in the Apprentice House Garden – this process was overseen by Assistant Head Gardener Ann Gaughan.

Photo by Derek Hatton
Photo by Derek Hatton

There was no evidence of the species on the estate in 2013 .

The Emperor Dragonfly takes 2 years to mature to adult form and in 2014, large nymphs were seen in the Apprentice House Pond .

Adults were seen in the Upper Garden at Styal in early July 2014 and I observed 2 females were seen egg laying in the Dipping Pond on the 10th July 2014.

Photo by Derek Hatton
Photo by Derek Hatton

A success story for nature conservation at Styal – OR just a happy coincidence ?

Due to lack of vegetation and prey species, a decision has been taken to again relocate the weed to the Apprentice House Garden.

Come for a walk around the estate and see what wildlife you can spot – we’d love to see your pictures which you can share with us on Twitter and Facebook.

Here’s a link to some of our walks:


One Comment Add yours

  1. Linda Hughes says:

    What a coincidence! I’m making an animated film to accompany Marian Allen’s poem ‘The Wind on the Downs’ about Arthur Greg. I’ve just drawn an Emperor dragonfly flying over a canal, for the line ‘And wonder what new kingdoms you explore’. The work will be online from the second week in August at the Poetry Society’s website.

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