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.