Saturday 29 November 2014

Broad and Very Scarlet.

With the days now drawing in and winter well on its way I like to think of brighter and warmer times.
What therefore could be better than remembering a hot and sunny day in Greece watching the Scarlet Darters,especially the males as they whizzed around defending their territories
On the continent this dragonfly is commonly known  as the Broad Scarlet.and is particularly abundant around the Mediterranean.There have been only six or so sightings of this spectacular dragonfly in the UK since the first record in 1995.At least one of these was on the Isle of Wight.
The Scarlet Darter(Crocthemis erythraea) is a sun loving species and from its origins in Africa has slowly spread through southern Europe northwards as far as the English Channel coast.The male has the most vividly red abdomen of all European dragonflies although the female is yellow-brown with a diagnostic pale stripe between the wing bases
Hopefully this darter will soon make a more regular appearance in the UK and add some Mediterranean colour to our countryside.

Friday 14 November 2014

A Summer Trek and the Long March Home.

Back in the first week July a companion and I made two visits to the only colony of Keeled Skimmers on the Isle of Wight.The results of these visits are detailed in earlier blog entries.
It is quite a trek to get to the site as it is situated on cliff landslip on the south west coast of the Island and the only access is via the beach.In the past getting onto the shore at the closest point to the Keeled Skimmer site was via Whale Chine but winter erosion apparently made this route impassable.Therefore we had to use another chine farther along the coast which meant a walk of an hour and half to our destination.Not a stroll when trudging through sand and over stones in wellington boots.
En route we passed by Whale Chine and to our surprise saw that rough steps together with several ropes had been fashioned up the cliff by anglers who fish from the shore at night.Returning by this method up the cliff would save us an hour along the beach on our return trip.
Nearing the site we came across our first skimmer flying around on the beach.It turned out to be a mature female and hopefully they will spread out and colonize suitable habitat on any other nearby landslips.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

An Isle of Wight First of the Season

The British Dragonfly Society produces a colourful twice yearly magazine for its members which I can highly recommend for those that are interested in dragonflies.
In the latest edition there is a list of the 'First Dates for 2014' for species sightings reported to their website for the UK and I am glad to say  the Isle of Wight notched up the first Ruddy Darter seen in Britain this year.
The date of the sighting was in early June at Brading Marsh.
This attractive darter is mainly seen here in July and August and can be locally common throughout southern and eastern England.The male has a waisted abdomen which turns blood red in colour as it matures.Females and immatures are yellow-ochre marked with thin black lines.
The immature male seen at the marsh is pictured below followed by  photographs of a mature male and a mating pair.