Tuesday 26 February 2013

A Welcome Dash of Colour

The Large Red Damselfly is perhaps first to appear from our ponds in the spring.It provides a welcome dash of colour to otherwise sombre waters.
It is not only common on the Isle of Wight but widespread throughout the UK.Eggs are laid into submerged vegetation and hatch after several weeks.Normally the larvae develop over two years at the bottom  of the watercourse and many emerge synchronously on spring days over a three week period.

  It seems that this species has no hesitation in tackling prey its own size as seen here when this female took an immature Azure Damselfly in flight and proceeded to consume it.Males can also be very aggressive by driving off any other males and passing insects.

Sunday 24 February 2013

A Southern Beauty

The Southern Hawker must be one of my favourite British dragonflies.The male splendid in green,blue and yellow and the particularly attractive female in brown and apple green.There can be no better moment than watching a patrolling male as it flies along the bank of its pondside territory investigating all the nooks and crannies,and also taking a great interest in any intruder.They will hover around you ,returning now and again for yet another look.
This species seems to be quite common on the Isle of Wight.I have seen it at streams,in woodland rides,at large ponds,and at my humble garden pond.The female can be seen laying eggs at the base of pondside plants and into mosses and even logs.

The eggs overwinter in this vegetation and hatch the following spring.After two or three years the larvae are ready to emerge from the pond.
Emergence will take several hours as once the dragonfly has broken out of the larval case it must straighten by pumping fluid through its body and wings.Colour will develop gradually and the teneral will soon be ready for its first flight.

The immature male dragonfly will now spend time hunting for food in woodland glades until it matures and then will return to water to defend a territory and await females.



Friday 22 February 2013

Small Red-eyes

A very recent and swift coloniser of the Isle of Wight has been the Small Red-eyed Damselfly.Only in the last ten years has this damselfly been discovered breeding on the Island and now can be found at several locations

The peak months  for this species are July and August where they frequent ponds,lakes and ditches covered in floating plants.Females spend most of their time on these pond plants well away from the margins although the males can sometimes be seen nearer to the bank.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Emerald Isle

The Emerald Damselfly it seemed, had a successful season in 2012 on the Isle of Wight,at least at the locations I visited.Numbers of this species were up on the previous year.It is a very attractive damselfly and appears somewhat later than most other damselflies,in the late summer.

Eggs are normally laid into the stems of emergent plants eg rushes and they do not hatch until the following spring.The larva grow quickly and emerge after 2-3 months.The final photograph here is of an immature male.

Monday 11 February 2013

Some Greek Dragonflies

Just to get away from Isle of Wight for a moment and mention our holiday to our favourite destination,the Greek Islands.
As a family we love to visit them when we can,and our trip to the island of Thassos in the northern Aegean last August was not a disappointment.I like to wander around close to our accomodation to see the local wildlife although I must say that dragonfly sightings have been few and far between in Greece,
However,on this occasion we were in the right spot.As can be seen the bay is backed by mountains and several streams wind their way across the marshy and rich lowland to the sea.Despite a good deal of developement over the last twenty years some areas of reed and scrub remain which are home to a good selection odonata.
Behind the  beach in the dunes are hordes of Red-veined Darters and in and around the reeds I came across the beautiful Scarlet Darter and the Keeled Skimmer.The latter is the subspecies anceps. which is found particularly in the southern Balkans.In addition a transitional phase Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly popped-up.

Saturday 9 February 2013

Common Blue Beauty

The Common Blue Damselfly is perhaps as the name implies,the most abundant of our damselflies.It is found in still and flowing water habitats and only seems to shun small ponds.
On the wing from late April to well into September the male is particularly handsome,decked out in an electric blue colour.The female comes in two colour forms,dull green and blue.
One of my favourite damselflies.

                                                            Blue form female
                                                            Green form female                 

Friday 8 February 2013

Start of the Season

In 2012 at my local pond it is the end of March and despite the look of winter things are starting to grow.
As April begins Large Red Damselflies will be the first to emerge.Depending on temperatures  the Broad-bodied Chaser and the Hairy Dragonfly will soon be seen at the pond.

Royal Visitors

In my garden there is a modest sized pond which I created in February 2011.It is now visited by palmate newts and a common frog ,although I do not think the frog has attracted a female as yet.
Last summer,the ponds first full year,I was excited to come across five empty exuviae of the impressive Emperor Dragonfly.In one case I was lucky enough to see a new emergent.This dragonfly is our largest and I have observed females ovipositing regularly in the pond throughout last summer.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Something to Brighten-up a Dismal Day

I have only seen the Red-eyed Damselfly at one location on the Isle of Wight to date.A while ago in the month of June I was fortunate enough to be invited to a collection of fishing lakes where this species could be found.
Sadly the day of the visit was overcast and damp.Nevertheless a wander around the lakes did produce several sightings of this damselfly.Generally views are restricted to individuals on lilypads out on the water.
However perhaps because of the dismal weather conditions I was very lucky to come across a male on foliage on the bank. A very handsome damselfly and always worth looking for.

Striking Gold

It is an exhilarating sight to see a male Golden-ringed Dragonfly defending its territory against all-comers, as well as observing a female Golden-ringed majestically cruising along a stream looking out for a spot to lay her eggs.
We are very fortunate on the Island to boast this species as it is an impressive and colourful dragonfly.This immature female was spotted in Walters Copse during July which is when most will be seen.The eyes are still grey but will turn bright green as an adult.
The Golden-ringed has an unique method of ovipositing.The female will hover vertically over a suitable area of stream and insert its abdomen several times into the stream-bed,pogo-stick fashion.When hatched the larva will live partially buried at the bottom of the watercourse feeding, for up to five years before emerging as an adult.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Still Down at Mill

The mill at Brighstone village has for some years ceased to function and is now converted to residential homes.However I am glad to say that the Banded Demoiselles are still occupying the banks of the mill stream,
Perhaps June is the best time to see them,particularly the stunning male which can be seen patrolling its territory flitting up and down his stretch of  the stream.
Behaviour is very similar to the Beautiful Demoiselle and they can sometimes be found together if the conditions are right.Normally,however the Banded prefer a slower flowing watercourse.

Keeled Skimmers at Whale Chine

The south-west coast of the Isle of Wight suffers from  regular coastal erosion.This landslip of the sandstone cliffs creates ideal conditions for the Keeled Skimmer.On these areas of landslip, draining water forms boggy pools allowing the skimmer to survive and complete its life cycle.
Whale Chine is among several sites along this stretch of coast where this dragonfly can breed and July is normally the best time to see them.

Mature males are mainly blue whereas immature males are similar to the golden-yellow colour of the females.