Saturday 7 October 2017

Top Highlight of 2017

We enjoyed some excellent early summer weather this year and the dragonflies responded with plenty of sightings at the usual sites.Unfortunately the periods of settled warm weather did not continue through the latter part of the summer and activity was very disappointing.
The first  highlight of the season occurred on an earlier than usual holiday to the Greek Island of Thassos. We normally visit in August but this year decided on  May. The reed surrounded pools at the back of the beach at Chrissi Ammoudia always have a variety of odonata.However this time  I was treated to close views the Norfolk Hawker, Aeshna isoceles. This green-eyed hawker is not encountered much in the UK except in East Anglia as the name would suggest.
At a local garden pond site the Small Red-eyed Damselfly was once again out in good numbers after the aggressive cutting back of water lilies in the winter of 2015-16.In fact a sighting on the 20th June this year was the earliest record of this species on the Isle of Wight to date.Apart from the sight of an emergent damselfly on the pond weed, a mature male was spotted soon after this and therefore the date can be earlier by several days.
Exciting though these encounters were,the top highlight of 2017 by far must be the discovery of a breeding colony of Southern Emerald Damselflies here on the Island close to the town of Yarmouth. Prior to May this year the only records of  Lestes barbarus  in the UK have been in Kent,Essex,and Norfolk so it is quite an event to find this new species.The discovery may have gone unnoticed as the photographs of the several Southern Emeralds seen on that day were misidentified as  Lestes  sponsa. Thanks therefore must go the Odonata Records Officer for Migrant Dragonflies at the British Dragonfly Society for pointing out the error.I have now recovered from my initial embarrassment of making this basic mistake, as for some seasons prior to 2017 I have regularly seen Lestes sponsa  at this site. In fact it is thanks to another odonatist  trawling through the earlier posts of this blog that confirmed the photos taken in 2016 showed Leste barbarus and not Lestes sponsa  as I had thought.These earlier photographs  also proved that breeding had taken place on this site since at least 2015 as some individuals were immature.

Friday 18 August 2017

Quiet at Bouldnor.

Dodging the heavy showers was the name of the game today although when the sun shone it was pleasantly warm.However a walk around the ponds at Bouldnor did not produce any great quantity of dragonflies.Most prolific were male Ruddy Darters and they could be seen every few feet along the banks of the ponds.There were also  several Common Darters but none of the larger dragonflies that I would expect to see at this time of year.This was also true of damselflies as I only encountered one male Common Blue Damselfly and a single male Emerald Damselfly. 

Saturday 5 August 2017

Busy at Brighstone Mill Stream.

I decided to make a brief visit the mill stream at Brighstone today as I was passing close by. The sun was shining and there were a few  hot spots along the stream,just right for sun loving dragonflies. Not surprisingly Common Darters were numerous as too were Banded Demoiselles. It was good to see a male Golden-ringed Dragonfly patrolling a short stretch of the stream and obligingly perching on any convenient reed stem. Another dragonfly also with the same intent, was a Southern Hawker that found an overhanging branch.

Friday 21 July 2017

Crockford Stream.

Crockford Stream is on the southern edge of Beaulieu Heath in The New Forest.As mentioned in my two previous posts the stream is well known for two special damselfly species,the Small Red Damselfly and the Southern Damselfly.The stream is best accessed at Crockford Bridge on the B3054 from Lymington to Beaulieu.
On my visit this week I was welcomed by numerous male Beautiful Demoiselles and Keeled Skimmers every few feet, all defending their piece of the stream.The stream trickles its way through this boggy area almost disappearing at times in the low scrub. In places it forms small open pools and also clear slow running spots where female Golden-ringed Dragonflies can be seen laying their eggs in their unique fashion.There is also no shortage of male Golden-ringed flying low along the stream in search of females.
It wasn't long before I came across several male Southern Damselflies  at certain favoured points on the bank.Small Red Damselflies were not so common and only found in the more boggy areas of the stream.As this habitat seems to be very specialized the only other species of damselfly on view was a single male Blue-tailed.

Looking east to Crockford Bridge with the stream on the right

Thursday 20 July 2017

Southern Damselfly in The New Forest.

Apart from the Small Red Damselfly there is another specialist damselfly at Crockford Stream in the New Forest.The Southern Damselfly Coenagrion mercuriale or the Mercury Bluet as it is named in continental Europe is restricted to just a few sites in England and Wales.The New Forest is perhaps its main stronghold in the UK.The name of this Red Data Listed damselfly refers to the 'Mercury' mark on the S2 segment of the male, although this shape can sometimes vary slightly.
The female is normally a dull green with the abdomen mainly black above and blue divisions between the last few segments There is a blue form of the female as shown below in the third photograph.It can be seen that the female has green eyes.

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Small Red Damselflies in the New Forest.

Yesterday I made a long overdue visit to Crockford Stream in the New Forest .This stream is renowned above all for the Small Red Damselfly and the Southern Damselfly. The New Forest is one of the few locations in England and Wales for this species.The Small Red requires shallow and quite warm acidic waters in the form of pools,and small streams.This type of habitat is usually associated with heathland bogs as found in the New Forest.

Friday 14 July 2017

Small Red-eyes Take the Stage.

A count of at least eight adult male Small Red-eyed Damselflies this morning at a garden pond in the village of Shalfleet,all on their own individual lily-pads Hopefully numbers will increase in the next few weeks as activity reaches a peak.

Saturday 8 July 2017

First Golden-ringed Dragonfly of the Year.

Rather belatedly I saw my first Golden-ringed Dragonfly of the season yesterday while on a day trip to  the woods at Whiteley in Hampshire.This male was hunting in a very sunny spot on the main track.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Small Red-eyes Out & About.

As the hot and sunny weather continues I made a first visit of the year to a garden pond in the village of Shalfleet. The owners had cleared out a lot of the water lily from their pond last year and Small Red-eyes numbers seemed to suffer in 2016.However it is clear from today's visit that the lilies have recovered and many lily pads cover the pond.Damselfly prospects look good too with a teneral recorded on the pond and later an  adult male seen on a pad near to the pond edge.
It can be noted from the photograph that the exuvia is present.The  larva has therefore emerged from the pond as this point through the pond weed.   

Sunday 18 June 2017

Banded at Brighstone Mill Stream.

A short outing this afternoon presented the opportunity to drop in at Brighstone Mill stream to see the Banded Demoiselles. The former mill stream was alive with male demoiselles flitting over the clear running water in brief aerial combat before returning to their waterside stations.Female demoiselles were also in evidence and in particular a mature female Beautiful Demoiselle took my eye as she consumed her prey.Banded dominate this stream but Beautiful Demoiselles are known to wander so this one could have come from afar.


Dragonflies Out in the Hot Weather.

There were plenty of dragonflies on show around Bouldnor Forest ponds yesterday with the weather  set fair and temperatures in the high twenties celsius. Much of the ground surrounding the shallow pond are clear of vegetation and Black-tailed Skimmers are consequently numerous.It is also time for the emergence of Common Darters and many tenerals are easily disturbed from their hiding places in the scrub. I was lucky enough to come across one or two Emerald Damselflies in the long grass and short scrub along with an immature male Common Blue Damselfly..Mature Ruddy Darters have now returned and the  blood red males can be seen near to the pond edge.
Several species of dragonfly mainly immature,frequent the paths and tracks in the forest at the moment,Inevitably most are Black-tailed Skimmers,although I did see my first Southern Hawker as it hunted for insects.When successful it would take its prey to a convenient perch, usually high up in the branches of a tree


Friday 16 June 2017

Southern Emerald Isle.

Despite the occasional cloudy period a visit to our Southern Emerald site today was rewarded with several mature damselflies around their shallow pools.The small collection of scrape-like pools here all look to be dry except the largest which seems to have a puddle in the centre. However this type of habitat is apparently preferred by this species.