Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Temporary Hiatus

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed that the rate of blog posts has decreased over the past twelve months. There have been some nice posts which I'm very happy with but I simply haven't had the time to devote to writing posts at the frequency I have in the past.
Like everyone else, pressures of a regular (and very enjoyable) day job,combined with trying to spend time with family and friends has meant something had to give. I also have one, very important project to complete.
For these reasons, I've decided to take a positive step and put the Communicate Science blog on hiatus for a couple of months. I'm sure this won't make a huge difference in anyone's life but my own - I do enjoy the enforced distraction of writing the blog- but can ensure readers that this will be a temporary ceasefire rather than the end for this corner of the internet.
Like the daffodils, I'm going underground for a few months to get some work done and will return, triumphant, in a blaze of glory in the Spring. If you simply can't wait that long, then I'll still be knocking around twitter @blogscience

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2013 - the year of the Vagrant Emperor

Check out this guy - a Vagrant Emperor (Hemianax ephippiger) dragonfly captured at Castleventry, West Cork earlier this year.

This individual is one of seven reported this year - a surprise since just two had been identified in Ireland since one was first recorded, in Dublin in 1913. The Dragonfly Ireland Facebook group describe the sightings this year as "absolutely inprecedented".

Dragonfly Ireland has also produced a useful map of Vagrant Emperor records in Ireland. (2013 records are indicated by orange circles; two reports were logged in 2011- orange squares; and the original Dublin sighting is indicated by a blue dot).

Dragonfly Ireland have produced this map of Vagrant Emperor sightings in Ireland.

One of the West Cork sightings was by 'friend of the blog' Kieran Lettice who reports that his family cat dragged the creature into the house (unharmed) one night in late September.After extracting it from the jaws of a proud feline, the emperor was photographed and released without any obvious injuries.

While Kieran and yours truly were able to make a preliminary identification, it fell to butterfly and moth expert Ken Bond to make a definitive identification.

The Vagrant Emperor is native to North Africa and is generally described as a rare long-distance visitor to UK and Ireland. Although it has even been found dead or dying as far North as Iceland, and even as far West as South America; its travels are quite remarkable given its size and fragile appearence. An emperor of vagrants, to be sure!

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