Sunday 8 November 2015

It's Always Worth Taking a Closer Look.

The Southern Skimmer,Orthetrum brunneum can be quite common in Southern Europe although here in the UK it is unrecorded.Breeding has taken place in the Channel Islands and the species is gradually spreading northwards through France.
This Skimmer is very similar to the Keeled Skimmer and in Greece where I regularly holiday it can be tricky to separate it from the anceps subspecies of the Keeled.However there are several minor differences which are not obvious in the field.Careful study of any photographs seems to be the best method,especially to a non-expert like me.So a close look at two photos from last August taken on the Greek Island of Thassos identified this as a probable immature male Keeled Skimmer.
It looked a good candidate for a first Southern Skimmer for me.However, although this individual has several double cells in the right place on the outer wings for a Southern Skimmer,so too can the Keeled,usually in fewer numbers.Other features are necessary to confirm which species it is such as abdomen shape and the markings on the thorax.Therefore unless it 'ticks all the boxes' identification is not always certain.  


Thursday 1 October 2015

Back on the Landslip.

Despite a brisk easterly wind the sun was shining yesterday and there was autumn warmth in sheltered spots.At several ponds on the landslip at Compton Chine the dragonfly activity remains high with all the species encountered a few days ago  still evident.However I was very pleased to observe a female Emperor majestically cruising around  the largest pond looking for places to lay her eggs.Quite late in the season to see this particular species on the wing.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Landslip Ponds.

On the Islands' south west coast the cliffs are constantly on the move due to coastal erosion.The soft sandstone is weathered by wind,rain and sea to form scattered small ponds on these plateaus of landslip.These pools and ponds are a magnet for migrating dragonflies from the continent and there is always a chance to see a special arrival here.Today in warm sunshine several resident dragonflies were seen on and around these pools.Common Darters seemed to be the main species along with several Migrant Hawkers,although it was good to see that the Common Blue Damselfly is still here.Several males were seen patrolling a small pond together with females.I must say  it was the first time that I have witnessed the sight of a seemingly expired female floating on the water only to be plucked up by a male Common Blue and taken to the bank of the pond.There the male expected to mate but due to her condition it seemed to be a forlorn hope.

Friday 11 September 2015

Late Season Visit to Bouldnor Ponds.

 At Bouldnor Forest ponds today the Common Darters were prominent with many males and egg laying pairs.Not surprising of course at this time of the season, although I was more than happy to see at least four male Emerald Damselflies vying for the best spot among some pondside reeds.The odd  male Southern and Migrant Hawkers were patrolling the ponds and rustling about in the bulrushes, several ovipositing female Migrant Hawkers.

Thursday 10 September 2015

Late Summer Hawkers.

A beautiful morning in Walters Copse at Newtown today as we enjoy a few days of sunny and warm weather.Southern Hawkers seemed to be in all the woodland rides although at least two Migrant Hawkers were spotted.The latter is a non-aggressive dragonfly and these two species tolerate one another when hunting for prey.
The male Southern is a colourful but somewhat gaudy dragonfly whereas the female is a wonderful apple-green and brown.The Migrant Hawker is slightly smaller than the Southern and definitely not as brightly coloured,the male showing mainly blue and brown. 

Tuesday 8 September 2015

A Welcome Arrival.

Dragonflies have been elusive this season,especially at my garden pond.Emerging dragonfly and damselfly numbers are low,so this teneral Common Darter was a welcome sight today at my pond. Although  this new arrival seemed to have a skewiff wing it managed to eventually flutter away to cover.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

The Obelisk.

The obelisk posture it seems,is an excellent way for a dragonfly to cool down on a very hot day. Favoured mainly by dragonflies that  spend a lot of time on some sort of perch  waiting for a meal to come by, a dragonfly will raise its body to a vertical position.This ensures that they cast as little shadow  as possible and therefore the suns' heat is minimized.
I think that this behaviour is not likely to be seen too often  in the UK, as temperatures rarely rise high enough.In hotter climates however it is a common sight.

Saturday 29 August 2015

A Blue Scarlet Darter.

The male Scarlet Darter or Broad Scarlet is a striking sight with it's magnificent bright scarlet body and eyes.In contrast the immature male, as well as the female are yellow-brown.As the females mature they become olive in colour,so I was confused to see an all blue darter displaying a resemblance to this species when on the holiday on the Greek Island of Thassos recently.So confused in fact that I posted the following photos of this individual on an established dragonfly website to get a positive ID from those in the know.I was not disappointed as several diagnostic features were explained to me which confirmed that this very mature female darter was a blue Scarlet Darter. 
However I should not be surprised as many dragonfly species display this pruinosity or 'bloom' mainly as a blue colouring , although it can take on other colours.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

A Regular at Church.

This small Greek church is snuggled in a depression of ground in the holiday resort of Skala Panagia on the Greek Island of Thassos.In this shady spot next to the church is a small damp and wet area mainly covered in reeds, and home to several species of dragonfly. One of those species seems to be the Eastern Willow Spreadwing or Eastern Willow Emerald Damselfly.It is mainly confined to Greece and the Balkans whereas its western relative the Willow Emerald Damselfly is resident throughout the rest of Europe. 

Back to Thassos.

 Three years ago we made a second visit to the Greek Island of Thassos and found that tourist development had arrived at the spectacular beach which we had first seen almost deserted twenty years previously.So I hoped that the chances for the remaining wildlife had not diminished still further when I visited the same location for a short holiday last week.The several streams that flowed across the flat land  to the beach were still there although the signs of human pollution are evident.At this time of year they are almost dry but  the winter rains from the mountains no doubt increases the flow.
The colourful male Scarlet Darters line the streams margins where they can still find some open water with the females appearing now and again to mate and oviposit.Away from the stream in the sand dunes that separate the tourist apartments from the beach I can always find loads of Red-veined Darters in all stages of maturity.

Friday 24 July 2015

Woodland Hawkers.

At this time of the year the long summer days
provide a bounty of flying insects in our woodlands and meadows.Along  the sunny rides and clearings our dragonflies and in particular the hawkers find an abundant supply of prey.
Two species seem to be most noticeable in my local copse at present,the Emperor and the Southern Hawker.Whereas most seem to be still immature,as so this female opposite,it was a treat to come across a more mature female (pictured below).

Friday 17 July 2015

Our Lucky Day.

As mentioned in some of my earlier posts the Small Red-eyed Damselfly is a relatively recent addition to the fauna of the UK.The male is colourful damselfly and can normally be seen passing the time on a lily-pad usually some way out on the pond.Therefore I am fortunate to be able to visit a modest sized garden pond  where this damselfly can be observed at close quarters.
It is early in their season so today there were just a few males to see on their lily-pads.The photo below of a teneral male Red-eyed was a result of its near fatal encounter with a strand of spiders web.The damselfly was struggling in vain to free itself from its snare just an inch or so above the water and some short distance out on the pond.Taking a handy hosepipe I managed to free it using the end of the hose and it happily clung to my finger until I deposited it onto a pondside leaf.My reward was several photos of this youngster who eventually fluttered off into cover.

Monday 6 July 2015

Pond News.

The summery weather has triggered a lot of activity at my garden pond recently.However apart from the usual damselflies there have not been many of the larger dragonflies to see.So yesterday it was good to witness this female Emperor Dragonfly ovipositing into the extensive carpet of frogbit.
Another visitor was this maturing Common Darter that has taken up his spot on the pebbles awaiting females.  

Friday 3 July 2015

Hunting Hawkers.

On a walk through the wood today I came across two hawkers on the lookout for a meal.The first an immature female Southern Hawker and secondly an adult male Emperor Dragonfly.