Our garden pond here is covered in duckweed. I stood with mum today, looking at it idly. I suppose we should clear it, a bit. It's not too dense, but there is a lot of it, bubbling and shaking underneath from tadpoles drinking air. Water measurers tiptoe their way across it. Small black flies do squiggly little courtship dances over it. Damselflies inch their abdomens down into it to lay eggs. And today, a hornet came down to drink. I am sure it was a queen, though it seems the wrong time of year. It was a good one and a half inches long. Big.
This was not like the measured drinking of wasps. I've seen wasps drinking here loads of times. They land delicately on the side of the pond, on the scratched black liner, or on a lilypad. They walk down the edge, bring their scything mandibles to the water , the surface tension sucks it up to their jaws and they drink deeply before ungluing themselves and walking back up to fly away.
This hornet appeared with the distant sound of chinook rotorblades. And she didn't land at the side of the pond. She flew down to about a foot above the water. Rotated slowly about her horizontal axis, then dropped BLOOF straight down onto the duckweed. No messing. No creeping about. This huge, huge, huge wasp — so big it resembled Edwardian jewellery cut with some weird steampunk vespid vibe — just landed in the middle of the pond, sat there drinking with the relish of a man at a bar, then perked up her wings and took off, legs trailing. And off she went. I've never seen a hornet in the garden. It was bloody awesome.