Resembling small dragonflies, the damselflies are more delicate and more colourful. Many are coloured with bright enamel-blue.
There are at least a dozen species of damselflies recorded from Lake Wendouree. No doubt there are other species elsewhere in the Ballarat district. The one pictured today is a male ringtail damselfly, probably the inland ringtail. The female is browner, with paler blue.
The photo is much enlarged. An inland ringtail is regarded as a medium-sized damselfly, about 40mm long.
Males perch on lakeside vegetation, and they can be observed interacting with other males in territorial disputes.
The ringtails are a group of similar bright blue and black damselflies. Their bright blue colour is quite striking, contrasting nicely with the glossy black. They rest with their wings folded above their abdomen.
Like dragonflies, damselflies have a long underwater life as nymphs before they emerge as winged adults to spend a brief week or two in the sun. They feed mostly on flying insects and are totally harmless as far as humans are concerned.
There are six different species of dragonflies known from Lake Wendouree, as well as the 12 damselflies. Recent publications, online information and digital cameras have resulted in increasing knowledge of these insects.
With all the black swans on Lake Wendouree, it is perhaps a wonder that no white ones or albinos have ever appeared.
A recent report – from the appropriately named Swan Bay at Queenscliff – mentions a white swan near the Queenscliff Yacht Club on January 29.
A photo accompanies the report, and shows an all-white swan with the usual red beak. The report refers to the bird as “leucistic” rather than albino, although the bird appears to be an albino. By definition, a leucistic bird has a varying amount of white, but is not totally white with pink eyes like a true albino. The bird in the photo certainly had pink eyes, but pink eyes are a feature of all black swans, so they are meaningless in determining whether a white swan is an albino or not. The recent Queenscliff bird was accompanying other black swans.
True white swans were introduced from Europe to Lake Wendouree 100 or more years ago. For most of the next 50 or so years there was a pair or two, then finally just the one bird, which died in the 1950s. These handsome birds are now almost gone from living memory.
The “Swan Pool” at Lake Wendouree was once enclosed with a picket fence to contain the first imports.