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Another day another record…

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The latest ever resident Shropshire species record now sits with Common Darter – 2 individuals pictured here and seen by Stephen Barlow at Whixall Moss on 25th November….will they last to December?

Face to face with the latest Black Darter…

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…and now we have 2 species seen on the latest date ever for resident dragonflies in Shropshire. Here is Stephen Barlow face to face with a darter taken an hour or so ago on Whixall Moss! I originally posted this as Black Darter as moments before Stephen had both a Black and a Common Darter settle on his hands before they moved onto his clothes and then 1 onto his face! We assumed it was the Black Darter on his face, but even with close inspection it’s difficult to be sure. Luckily he identified both species on his hands and personally I just wish more dragonflies would land on me!

Latest ever record of Shropshire resident species!

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The sun is out and the sky is blue and we have a Shropshire record for you! Stephen Barlow has been out today (22nd November) on Whixall Moss and photographed this female Common Darter within the last hour. This surpasses the previous latest record for any resident species in Shropshire by 2 days. With all this mild weather (until last night) this comes as no surprise and there may even be more records to come…please do keep me posted…

Latest ever Shropshire records for 2 species

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Stephen Barlow has sent in late records of both Common Hawker and Black Darter seen at Whixall Moss on 14th November- the latter pictured here. These sightings represented the latest ever Shropshire records for both species until yesterday when a further 3¬† male Black Darter were recorded by Julian Cartwright on 20th November. Not only is this the latest ever sighting of Black Darter in Shropshire, but it equals the latest sighting of any dragon or damselfly species resident in Shropshire. This was previously held by Common Darter seen on 20th November, 2015. As I write this blog and the sun is still shining I’m wondering if anyone is breaking any new records today…

Black Darter still on the wing..

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As well as Common Darters Stephen Barlow spotted this female Black Darter at Whixall Moss on 4th November…still in good shape with the diagnostic black triangle clearly visible on top of the thorax and 2 inverted black T shapes towards the end of the abdomen.

November records…

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Following a markedly cooler night Stephen Barlow visited Whixall Moss on Tuesday and managed to find 3 Common Darters -an over mature female pictured left. The southwesterly winds meant sheltered basking sites were difficult to find in the afternoon sun, but if there’s dragonflies to be found on Whixall Moss I’m always confident Stephen will find them!

Great opportunity for late records..

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Amazingly the mild weather continues as we hurtle towards the end of October. Stephen Barlow reports Common Darter and Common Hawker both being present on Whixall Moss on 25th October. The latest Shropshire record ever for Common Hawker was 31st October 2016 and for Common Darter 20th November 2015 and if this mild weather continues we could well see some very late sightings…

A mild mid-October…

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Very mild temperatures mean a good few records are still coming in with Southern Hawker, Common Darter and Migrant Hawker all out and about. Jan Shields took these photos of a female Migrant Hawker ovipositing at Attingham Park on 13th October. I’ve zoomed in (below right) as Jan has captured a clear view of the blade-like ovipositor as it slices into the vegetation where the eggs are placed.

Not just any common-or-garden hawker…

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Adrian Jones has sent in this lovely photo of a Common Hawker seen over a period of 2 days in his wildlife garden in Shrewsbury. Though named a Common Hawker this species is far from common in garden habitats, more typically being found on acidic pools such as those on the Long Mynd or up at Whixall Moss. Garden ponds typically play host to Southern, Migrant or Brown Hawkers.

Interestingly I also saw Common Hawker unexpectedly at Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre in August- again some distance from typical habitat. It will be interesting to analyse all the records this winter and see how many other ‘out of place’ sightings there have been for this species.

The wing beat goes on…

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As we launch into October with sunny skies it will be interesting to see how the remaining dragonflies fare. Incoming records show a reasonable number of species still on the wing in the last couple of weeks though of course the temperatures aren’t as mild as they were. Buckinghamshire County Dragonfly Recorder Alan Nelson has been visiting the Shropshire Hills and sent this lovely photo of a Southern Hawker seen at Pole Cottage Pools on the Long Mynd. It illustrates how dragonflies can keep their head¬†level whilst in flight regardless of other wing and body movements…all adding to their efficiency as formidable predators!

Please do keep me posted on late sightings and don’t forget to send in all your records by Christmas so I can have a good chance to analyse what’s been going on before writing the spring newsletter.