Monday 22 February 2021

Our Island Resident Species-Dragonflies(5).

The last entry in our Island resident species list describes the final three species. The large and impressive Golden-ringed Dragonfly is frequently seen on the Isle of Wight, in woodland rides and fields when immature, and  along streams when mature. Territorial males will  patrol up and down  their breeding waterways while the female may be seen  prodding her long needle-like ovipositor into the bed of shallow water while hovering in flight to deposit her eggs.

The Emperor Dragonfly is perhaps our largest dragonfly, and the male Emperor is unmistakable  as he quarters  any large pond. The female is a visitor to ponds large and small in order to lay her eggs.

The Migrant Hawker is a late summer hawker and seen here into October. It is usual to see this species in woodland rides hawking for insects well into the evening.


Sunday 21 February 2021

Our Island Resident Species-Dragonflies(4).

Only one of the three 'emerald' species that breed in the UK are found here. The Downy Emerald, Cordulia aenea is on the wing in May and is normally encountered at woodland ponds. That is the  male in particular, as they endlessly it seems, patrol the pond close to the bank. The best view is usually fleeting as the males will occasionally hover for a few seconds before continuing their flight. If one is lucky a glimpse  of a female can be seen as she deposits her eggs in a sheltered position of a shallow spot, maybe amongst reeds near to the pond edge.

The Hairy Dragonfly is the first hawker of the year, emerging in May. It is aptly described as a small  darkish 'mosaic hawker' with a hairy thorax. Mature males like to patrol at low level along well vegetated ditches and ponds. The female is rather secretive and only visits water to find a mate or lay eggs.

The Southern Hawker is common on the Isle of Wight  and immatures can be seen in June. It is a regular visitor to my garden pond with females ovipositing into pond side moss and reeds. In fact  close observation of an egg-laying female can mean that she could attempt to lay her eggs on your trouser leg or even on your camera. The mature male is somewhat gaudy although  the adult female is resplendent  in  chocolate-brown and green markings.


Wednesday 17 February 2021

Our Island Resident Species-Dragonflies(3).

The Keeled Skimmer could be considered a surprise resident on the Isle of Wight. The species is found in acidic wet heathland containing runnels and streams, not the habitat that you would associate with the Island. However on our  south-west coastal cliffs where the sandstone and clay are always on the move due to erosion, suitable habitat has been created on the landslip. Here small pools form  with emergent reeds and in a couple of areas along the coast this skimmer has made it home.


A common skimmer mainly found at any pond with bare exposed banks is the Black-tailed Skimmer. The males like to perch horizontally on bare ground,mud,stones and dead wood.


Tuesday 16 February 2021

Our Island Resident Species-Dragonflies(2).

Of the five species of  Darter that breed in the UK, we have three of them here. Firstly the Red-veined Darter, a regular migrant every year to our Island shores and since 2014 or perhaps before, numerous individuals have been recorded at a site just inland from our south-western coastal cliffs. The location itself is a reservoir on farmland and it is  reasonable to think that they are breeding at the site.

The other two darter species are the Ruddy and the Common. Both  appear in June although, as in 2020 the first Ruddy Darter can be seen in May. They share the same habitat but the Ruddy is generally less numerous than the Common. The male Ruddy Darter has a waisted abdomen, blood-red in colour when mature, but male immatures are a yellow-ochre which is similar to that of the female.

The Common Darter is widespread and seen here in a wide variety of habitats. Not only close to water but in woodland rides, gardens, and field edges. Perhaps the best way to separate the Common from the Ruddy, especially in females and immatures, is to look at the legs. All black in the Ruddy and brown to black with a yellowish stripe in the Common.


Thursday 11 February 2021

Our Island Resident Species-Dragonflies(1).

 As far as I am aware the Scarce Chaser Libellula fulva  has been breeding on the Isle of Wight for less than ten years. The preferred habitat is water meadows with slow flowing waterways and sometimes mature ponds as well as fishing lakes with dense marginal vegetation. Any small open stretches are favoured by the males in order to perch on the emergent plants.


A common chaser here is the Broad-bodied Chaser. The first adults are seen in April when as immature, the males have the same colouring as females. As they mature males take on a blue abdomen whereas the females remain yellowish-brown. However some very mature females may develop limited pruinosity

The third chaser is of course the Four-spotted Chaser. Although never common on the Island it has made a resurgence recently. Once mainly found  close to Brading Marsh it seems to have spread far and wide and can be encountered in a variety of habitats.  A male even turned up at my garden pond some time ago.


Wednesday 10 February 2021

Our Island Resident Species-Demoiselles.

Both demoiselle species are found on the Isle of Wight. The Banded Demoiselle can be abundant along our slow flowing watercourses and the adult male is striking  with its iridescent black band across the wings. The adult female can be separated from the Beautiful Demoiselle by displaying pale green wings rather than the brown of the latter species.

Like the Banded, the immature male and female Beautiful Demoiselle have brown eyes and wings. When mature the male develops dark eyes and dark brown-black wings and the female has dark brown wings. 

It is always a treat to witness the sight of several mature males sparring in flight over a sunlit section of stream to maintain their territories and impress the females. They particularly like farmland and woodland streams on the Island including well-shaded watercourses. Females can lay many eggs at a time and like to deposit them in emergent or floating plants.