Thursday 25 August 2016

An Evening Visitor.

After all activity it seems,has stopped for the day at my garden pond,it was pleasing to see a Southern Hawker this evening busily looking for a spot to oviposit.It was 1845 BST and the sun had disappeared from sight.A perfect moment perhaps for this female to lay her eggs in the pondside vegetation without any disturbance. 

Friday 19 August 2016

Beach Blues.

Although the dazzling  colour of the male Scarlet Darters was obvious along the stream that flowed,at least during the winter months, across the beach into the bay  at Chrysi Ammoudia on the Greek Island of Thassos,there are also other dragonflies to see here.Not least,the powder blue of the mature male Keeled Skimmers which, in this part of Southern Europe are the subspecies anceps. These skimmers tend to restrict themselves to the dense reeds just a short distance upstream away from the beach.They are a common sight here  and are seen in any small area of cleared reeds and  small pools.
On the other hand a very similar skimmer,the Southern Skimmer Orthetrum brunneum,is a species of more open ground.It is another common dragonfly in Southern Europe although until last week I had never seen one in the field. In the  summer months where this stream opens onto the beach a  large pool is formed,pictured below, and it was on the sandy bank of the pool that a male Southern Skimmer was spotted patrolling the waters edge.

Sunday 14 August 2016

The Reds Impress.

At this time of the year we look forward to a holiday in the Greek Islands and again our destination is the Aegean Island of Thassos.The sandy beach at Chrysi Ammoudia extends for 3 kms and is backed by a fertile plain to the mountains that overlook the bay.Twenty five years ago when we first visited the bay, the plain was devoid of holiday villas and apartments and many streams made their way from the mountains  to the shore.Inevitably things had to change,but pockets of reeds and some of the watercourses are still to be seen.Despite this human intrusion  dragonflies are around in some numbers, so find any water and they are sure to be close by.
No doubt the most noticeable of  all are the colourful male Scarlet Darters or Broad Scarlets. It is a spectacular species with the male an overall bright red. Males can be witnessed flying low over the water vying with other males for the best territorial spot.In contrast the females are a more sombre yellowy gold.


Friday 12 August 2016

An Uncommon Blue.

I was pleased to see this female blue form Common Blue Damselfly in my garden yesterday,particularly as I would not expect to record this species here.She has obviously not emerged from my small pond as this species prefers larger bodies of water.

Monday 25 July 2016

The Epaulet Skimmer.

On the extremities of southern Europe such as southern Spain or the Dodecanese Islands off the coast of Turkey,several species can be found that are common to tropical Africa and Asia.One of these species is Orthetrum chrysostigma or the Epaulet Skimmer as it is commonly called.
A couple of years ago while on holiday on the Greek Island of Rhodes I encountered this mature male skimmer.Perhaps the best diagnostic feature is a conspicuous whitish stripe lined in black, beneath the base of each forewing, on the side of the thorax.This feature gives the species its common name in fact.However the feature can be obscured in old males. as noted in the photo below where the stripe seems non-existent.Happily there are other signs that point to this individual being  O. chrysostigma ,the slender abdomen that is waisted near the base,and small adjacent yellow patches at the base of the hindwings.

Monday 4 July 2016

Plenty of Southern Hawkers.

A recent walk in my local forest produced several Southern Hawkers on the lookout for a meal.Despite the dull and rainy weather I came across a good number of these hunting along the forest tracks.The immature male pictured below had just caught its prey and found a dark corner to devour it.
Following the emergence of  a Southern from my garden pond almost a fortnight ago more immatures have been seen flying around the borders.The second hawker pictured is an immature female that landed low down behind the pear tree around 4pm and roosted overnight.She went on her way just before 10am the following morning.

Monday 27 June 2016

An Unexpected Visitor.

I was very surprised today to see this male dragonfly at my garden pond.It certainly seems to be a Keeled Skimmer and it is the first time that I have had this species at the pond.They are not a common dragonfly on the Isle of Wight as the only known colony is at the landslip some miles south of here on the coastal cliffs.This earlier post describing the location can be found here


Saturday 25 June 2016

Damselflies Put On A Good Show.

Despite a rather cloudy afternoon there was activity around the Bouldnor Forest ponds yesterday. Common Darters are still emerging in good numbers and I disturbed plenty as I walked past the long grass and  gorse bushes that surround the ponds.Blue-tailed Damselflies are now evident with males at the pond edges as well as females in the margins.So too are the Emerald Damselflies although numbers are never particularly high.Other damselflies included Common Blue,Azure, and Large Red.The larger dragonflies were not to be seen due no doubt to the dull conditions.

Thursday 23 June 2016

Some Southern Sunshine.

This mornings weather was close and cloudy following overnight thunderstorms with torrential rain.However it did not deter this female Southern Hawker from emerging at my garden pond. The beautiful apple and chocolate-brown coloured adult females are regular visitors to my pond every year, although a larva can take up to three years to emerge.

Friday 17 June 2016

New Arrivals and a New Species.

Despite cloudy skies and light showers marring a visit to my local forest ponds yesterday,there was some activity to see.This was restricted mainly to teneral darters and damselflies in the margins of the ponds.A first sighting this year was at least two Emerald Damselflies,a male and a female.This is a delicate and elegant damselfly and although numbers will increase,they never seem to be in prolific.That cannot be said of the Common Darter, as good numbers of tenerals are already moving away from the ponds to the safety of the nearby woodland.
An update on this post reveals that the 'Emeralds' pictured are Southern Emerald Damselflies,Lestes barbarus and therefore a new species for the Isle of Wight.See my post on the 25th May 2017.


Wednesday 15 June 2016

Busy At My Garden Pond.

With the sun shining between the showers today there was plenty of activity at my garden pond.As pairs of  Azure and Large Red Damselflies settled on the water a female Broad-bodied Chaser looked for an open spot to flick her eggs.Overhead the resident male Broad-bodied flew around keeping an eye on her.All this and then an Emperor Dragonfly started to oviposit into the frogbit.

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Banded Demoiselles Out in Force.

On a recent trip to seek out the Scarce Chaser as described in my entry of the 8th June,I was happy to see that the Banded Demoiselle is enjoying a good season with large numbers evident all around the stream frequented by the Scarce Chaser 

Sunday 12 June 2016

On The Lookout.

During a recent stay on the Greek Island of  Lefkada I encountered several dragonflies.Some however were moving on and any photographic record was not possible.Still,a particular male Violet Dropwing visited our holiday swimming pool and energetically flew around for some time.Once provided with a poolside perch he happily remained  for several days.
Find any sort of standing water and there is a good chance of seeing a dragonfly.This was so just along the road at what was no more than a field ditch,where a handsome male Scarlet Darter had taken up station.There are no shortage of olive groves here too and choose one with abundant wildflowers will always provide a few hawking dragonflies.The grove I investigated had a good number of Keeled Skimmers of the subspecies anceps.

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Scarce Chaser Returns.

Two years ago  we were fortunate enough to see several Scarce Chasers at an ideal habitat for them on the Isle of Wight.Despite another visit last year at this time none were to be seen at the site.This perhaps was due to the fact that it normally takes larvae two seasons to develop and emerge.
The signs were good this time, as some Chasers have been reported from another known Island site as well as one immature male seen a week or two ago at our location.The weather today was hot and muggy with hardly any breeze so the conditions were favourable.After some time investigating the slow moving stream  dotted with small open areas clear of reeds a mature male was spotted.He proved to be very accommodating by landing a frequent intervals on nearby reed stems. 


Thursday 26 May 2016

Busy at Bouldnor.

A good variety of species at Bouldnor Forest ponds today.The Black-tailed Skimmers are around the ponds with plenty of males patrolling and duelling with the male Broad-bodied Chasers over the water.Along the margins the Blue-tailed Damselflies and Azure Damselflies are searching for the females while in the surrounding gorse and long grass there are teneral Black-tailed Skimmers.A first sighting too of a teneral  Common Darter.

First Emperor.

This morning at 10 o'clock BST  a dragonfly  emerged  from my garden pond.It was an Emperor,our largest dragonfly in the UK and my first sighting of this species this year.The white wings slowly began to turn transparent  as fluid was pumped through and some colour appeared on the abdomen which gradually straightened.Another hour and a half and the wings unfolded and just before noon the teneral made its maiden flight.