Discovering Dragonfly Events & News

Free Dragonfly Identification Workshops – Wednesday 31st July

A morning session at Chard Reservoir with an afternoon session at Ferne Animal Sanctuary, led by Dave Smallshire, Devon County Dragonfly Recorder who has also written an excellent Dragonfly ID field guide.   As this is part of the National Lottery funded Discovering Dragonflies project, we are therefore ideally looking for people who in the future may be able to contribute to dragonfly recording in the future and ultimately help conservation of these magnificent creatures. Saying that wildlife enthusiasts of all levels of ability are welcome to come along and learn more about these stunning insects.

To book or for more information:


Budding Photographers – Win a Free Wildlife & Dragonfly Photography Experience

Thanks to a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund, Ferne Animal Sanctuary is running a project called Discovering Dragonflies.  Dragonflies have been around before the first dinosaurs appeared. They are beautiful, inquisitive and incredibly aerobatic – basically great to watch.  This is why dragonflies are perfectly suited for generating inspiration for, educating about, and raising awareness of our natural heritage.

As part of this project, we would like to offer the chance to take part in a half day Wildlife & Dragonfly Photography Experience. A professional wildlife photographer with extensive experience of working with all ages and abilities will provide tuition, inspiration and camera equipment if necessary, so that you can develop your photographic skills and take wonderful pictures of dragonflies and wildlife. 

To apply please e-mail, stating your age if under 18, including up to three recent photos of wildlife you have taken, and just a few words as to why you would like to improve your wildlife photographic skills. (The photos and statement will be used as a tiebreaker to determine best potential photographers if demand is higher than the limited available spaces.)  This competition is more about potential, so feel free to use your phone or any camera you have handy and get clicking.  You will need to hurry though as the deadline for entries is July 4th  (those receiving places will be notified by July 5th.)

The photography experience will take place at Ferne Animal Sanctuary near Chard on Saturday 13th July. There will be two sessions with 18 and under taking place in the morning, with over 18s in the afternoon.

We will share some of your photos, on our website, Instagram and Facebook sites, as well as in our dragonfly exhibition to be held at Ferne later in the Summer.          


Dragonfly Sculptures Willow Weaving

In March & May 2019, local people learnt learn how to make a large willow dragonfly sculpture.  All the attendees were from local community groups such as volunteers at Chard Reservoir, Yeovil Country Park, Chard Improvement Action Group and Long Run Meadow (Taunton). Participants will place their dragonflies in their respective community area. Also they were shown how to make a simple willow dragonflies – which they then can show others in their community groups – thus cascading and maximising the benefit of the project.


The Amazing Story of the Dragonflies and the Duck Pond

In the late Summer of 2018 staff at Ferne found that three dragonflies have emerged from the duck pond here.  Not so surprising I hear you say – I beg to differ as these dragonflies seemed to defy the odds for three reasons:

  1. The duck pond at Ferne gets cleared out regularly, and I mean completely cleared of all water and mud at least once a year.
  2. There are a lot of ducks in the duck pond, for which a dragonfly larva would be a tasty treat.
  3. The dragonfly larvae had to crawl several metres to get to both the chicken coop and duck shed where the exuviae (the skins left behind after they emerge from the larva) were found.

The dragonfly that emerged in the chicken coop was actually spotted before emerging, so some great pictures of this taking place can be seen in the Gallery.  Alas the story didn’t end happily, as a gust of wind entangled its wings in its legs.  Whilst it did disentangle itself, as a dragonfly’s wings are so delicate soon after emerging, the dragonfly couldn’t fly.  Emergence is when a dragonfly is really vulnerable to predators as well as the weather, so two out of three ‘aint bad.


Dragonfly Identification Course

This was held at Seaton Wetlands on Saturday August 11th  2018 which alas was cool and wet, and subsequently not good at all for seeing dragonflies.  However Dave Smallshires, the Devon Dragonfly Recorder, did an excellent presentation, with some amazing slides of dragonflies.  This included plenty of top tips on how to tell apart some of the similar species – such as ‘lights on full beam = Southern Hawker’.   We even managed to find a couple of species of damselflies on our forays into the dampness.   Almost half of the attendees were volunteers at Seaton Wetlands, so the course definitely will contribute to an increase in dragonfly records for the reserve and the local area.


Photography Course

This was led by wildlife photographer & tutor, Iain Green and held at Ferne Animal Sanctuary itself on August 15th – a much better day for dragonflies than the 11th!   This started with a brief introductory session inside in which Iain gave us some handy close up photography tips and excellent food for thought into what it is we are trying to capture and why.  For example do we want to include the background (which by the way should be out of focus!) to show a sense of place.  This latter point I actually put into practice that very evening as a dragonfly emerged on a chicken coop at Ferne – see the pictures in the Dragonfly Gallery

We then headed outside and tried to put some of these tips into practice whilst Iain concentrated on 1-2-1 tuition.  We did seem to congregate and spend most time at the aptly named Dragonfly Pond, where Common Darters and several species of damselflies put on a good show.

Grand Launch Event

The grand launch on the 22nd July showcased taster sessions of some of the dragonfly themed events that will be happening over the whole of the project.   The weather was really hot and sunny, which was great for dragonflies, but not so great for people.  All four of the free sessions on willow weaving and jewellery making were fully booked and some amazing things were made.

Also the pond dipping and drop in crafts proved really popular, with over a hundred people getting involved.  With so much time spent on the special dragonfly trail and display, these are remaining up over the Summer holidays so many more Ferne visitors can find out more about the fascinating lifestyle and wonder of dragonflies.