Many summers, it seems, there's an unusual wildlife visitor to the garden. One summer it was a bee-swarm. Another year a bullfinch appeared, only once, on the trellis by our kitchen window. In 2003 it was a large insect.

I wasn't pleased, initially, when a large flappy-winged thing landed on my t-shirt while I was having a tea-break, sitting in the garden. Indeed it made me scream in a girly kind of way and jump up from my chair. This fluttering thing was the size of a small bird, and came out of nowhere, landing on my arm.

After initial panic - having scared off the creature by my sudden movement - I noticed that it had settled on the plants nearby. It was, I could see, some kind of dragonfly. Not blue, like the ones I'd seen before, but brown, with white markings. An amazing creature, its wings, golden-brown complex structures reflecting light, its mouthparts visibly moving. Bigger and more intricate than any insect I've seen before in the garden, and presumably attracted by the pond.

It didn't stay long, moving off onto foliage on the wall, and then away from the garden altogether. It was identified, later, as probably a Brown Hawker. The photo on this page, of the dragonfly resting on a sweet pea plant, isn't brilliant quality, but the best I could do while balancing precariously in the flowerbed.

Dragonfly - probably a Brown Hawker? - summer 2003

Above: visiting dragonfly, summer 2003.
Top left: detail of dragonfly wings.