There was no doubt that this particular female Large Red emerged from my garden pond today. She was found clinging to the reed stem with the larval case a few inches below. I hope that it is the first of many to emerge from the pond this season.
Monday, 19 April 2021
Sunday, 18 April 2021
At my pond today was the first damselfly to be seen in the garden this year. A female Large Red Damselfly was spotted sitting on a bamboo leaf and with no evidence of it emerging from my pond I wonder if she came from the established pond next door. Either way, a welcome sight.
Saturday, 17 April 2021
What a pleasure to see the first damselfly of the season today at the Battery pond in Bouldnor Forest near to Yarmouth. In fact there were three teneral Large Red Damselflies, two fluttering away from cover close to the pond edge and this male a short distance away.
Sunday, 7 March 2021
The New Forest really needs no introduction. A fabulous ancient area of woodland, heathland, bog, and streams. The 'gateway' from the Isle of Wight is via Yarmouth, with a short ferry trip to Lymington. There are several damselfly species in the New Forest that are not found on the Island, two of which are on the GB Red List as Endangered or Near Threatened. Another is classed as Nationally Scarce.
The Small Red Damselfly Ceriagrion tenellum is one of our smallest and can be seen at heathland bogs and streams. This is the only British species to qualify as Nationally Scarce.
Another priority species and sometimes seen in the same habitat as the Small Red is the Southern Damselfly Coenagrion mercuriale. The New Forest is one of the few sites where this damselfly is found in the UK and also one of their main strongholds. In fact the Southern Damselfly is so rare that it has been afforded significant legislative protection.
The White-legged Damselfly is absent on the Isle of Wight but maybe found in one or two locations in the New Forest. This species prefers to spend it's time in tall vegetation along mature stretches of rivers. Can be quite abundant when conditions suit.
The final species in the Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura pumilio. The best places to find the Scarce Blue-tailed in the New Forest are at small heathland streams and flushes. They are sometimes in the company of the common Blue-tailed Damselfly so identification can be tricky.
Monday, 22 February 2021
The last entry in our Island resident species list describes the final three species. The large and impressive Golden-ringed Dragonfly is frequently seen on the Isle of Wight, in woodland rides and fields when immature, and along streams when mature. Territorial males will patrol up and down their breeding waterways while the female may be seen prodding her long needle-like ovipositor into the bed of shallow water while hovering in flight to deposit her eggs.
The Emperor Dragonfly is perhaps our largest dragonfly, and the male Emperor is unmistakable as he quarters any large pond. The female is a visitor to ponds large and small in order to lay her eggs.
The Migrant Hawker is a late summer hawker and seen here into October. It is usual to see this species in woodland rides hawking for insects well into the evening.
Sunday, 21 February 2021
Only one of the three 'emerald' species that breed in the UK are found here. The Downy Emerald, Cordulia aenea is on the wing in May and is normally encountered at woodland ponds. That is the male in particular, as they endlessly it seems, patrol the pond close to the bank. The best view is usually fleeting as the males will occasionally hover for a few seconds before continuing their flight. If one is lucky a glimpse of a female can be seen as she deposits her eggs in a sheltered position of a shallow spot, maybe amongst reeds near to the pond edge.
The Hairy Dragonfly is the first hawker of the year, emerging in May. It is aptly described as a small darkish 'mosaic hawker' with a hairy thorax. Mature males like to patrol at low level along well vegetated ditches and ponds. The female is rather secretive and only visits water to find a mate or lay eggs.
The Southern Hawker is common on the Isle of Wight and immatures can be seen in June. It is a regular visitor to my garden pond with females ovipositing into pond side moss and reeds. In fact close observation of an egg-laying female can mean that she could attempt to lay her eggs on your trouser leg or even on your camera. The mature male is somewhat gaudy although the adult female is resplendent in chocolate-brown and green markings.
Wednesday, 17 February 2021
The Keeled Skimmer could be considered a surprise resident on the Isle of Wight. The species is found in acidic wet heathland containing runnels and streams, not the habitat that you would associate with the Island. However on our south-west coastal cliffs where the sandstone and clay are always on the move due to erosion, suitable habitat has been created on the landslip. Here small pools form with emergent reeds and in a couple of areas along the coast this skimmer has made it home.
A common skimmer mainly found at any pond with bare exposed banks is the Black-tailed Skimmer. The males like to perch horizontally on bare ground,mud,stones and dead wood.
Tuesday, 16 February 2021
Of the five species of Darter that breed in the UK, we have three of them here. Firstly the Red-veined Darter, a regular migrant every year to our Island shores and since 2014 or perhaps before, numerous individuals have been recorded at a site just inland from our south-western coastal cliffs. The location itself is a reservoir on farmland and it is reasonable to think that they are breeding at the site.
The other two darter species are the Ruddy and the Common. Both appear in June although, as in 2020 the first Ruddy Darter can be seen in May. They share the same habitat but the Ruddy is generally less numerous than the Common. The male Ruddy Darter has a waisted abdomen, blood-red in colour when mature, but male immatures are a yellow-ochre which is similar to that of the female.
The Common Darter is widespread and seen here in a wide variety of habitats. Not only close to water but in woodland rides, gardens, and field edges. Perhaps the best way to separate the Common from the Ruddy, especially in females and immatures, is to look at the legs. All black in the Ruddy and brown to black with a yellowish stripe in the Common.