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More Small Red-eyed Damselflies…

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News just in- further sightings of Small Red-eyed Damselfly at Wellfield Fishery, Button Bridge, Wyre Forest. That’s 3 sightings so far this year….keep us posted so we can see how quickly and how far they are spreading across Shropshire.

Darting around on Whixall…

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Two lovely photos of Black Darter have been sent in from Whixall Moss and they provide a useful contrast to the Common Darter female pictured in the previous post. The female Black Darter (left) has solid black legs with no yellow stripe, a black triangle on top of the thorax as opposed to antehumeral stripes and she has a distinctive splash pattern of yellow dots on the side of the thorax. The female also has a more stocky and parallel sided shape to the abdomen than the male black darter -seen below left.

Common but stunning species…

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Jim Almond has been enjoying the darters in the surrounding fields at Venus Pool and has sent in these amazing close ups of a female Common Darter. Such a common and widespread species, but Jim’s photos really capture the fascinating detail. They also show the yellow leg stripe, the antehumeral stripes on top of the thorax and the lack of ‘long moustache’ (frons side line) which collectively tell us it’s a Common Darter.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly at Dudmaston

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Jim Almond has been to Dudmaston and recorded Small Red-eyed Damselfly on the main pond for the second year running which is great! Jim’s photos show the Small Red-eyed (left), the Red-eyed (below left) and the 2 species in direct comparison (below right). The comparison shot shows quite clearly the more extensive blue coloration and the shorter wing length seen in Small Red -eyed. The Small Red-eyed also looks far less robust than the Red-eyed -which incidentally is also at Dudamston in large numbers so you really need to look carefully!

Small Red-eyed Damselfly at Whixall…

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Last year we saw the first ever sightings of Small Red-eyed Damselfly in Shropshire towards the south and east of the county. We wondered when/if this species would spread across Shropshire and Stephen Barlow has sent in this exciting photo taken at Whixall Moss on 7th August. We believe this is a female Small Red-eyed Damselfly with complete (not tapering) antehumeral stripes, a rounded (not lobed) hind edge to the pronotum and distinctive colouring with much more blue towards the end of the abdomen than is seen in Red -eyed Damselfly females. Stephen also noted how much smaller this individual appeared than the more common Red-eyed Damselflies. The only unusual aspect of this specimen is the wing length, the wings typically being shorter in Small Red-eyed Damselfly. Please keep your eyes openĀ duringĀ  late summer for this relative new comer to Shropshire…

Flying over acidic waters…

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Jim Almond has been visiting some of our acidic boggy sites and sent in some lovely photos…not least these fabulous Common Hawker shots (left & left & right below)seen at Titterstone Clee Hill. The teneral is a male with a far more waisted abdomen than the female and the diagnostic ‘narrow yet prominent’ antehumeral stripes on the thorax. Jim also visited The Bog at Stiperstones and took the photos of Emerald Damselfly; the powder blue pruinesence seen clearly on the male (far below left) and the contrasting beige colours on the female (far below right). A mating pair also formed the near perfect ‘love heart’ shape in cop as did a pair of Black Darters (far far below right)- another of our acidic water species and the smallest dragonfly found in the UK.

Keeled Skimmer on the wing…sort of!

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Jan Shields has sent in a great set of interesting photos- starting with the first picture of a Keeled Skimmer for this year…no head, but you can still make out the diagnostic ochre pterostigma on the wings! This was photographed at Cramer Gutter where Jan also found the exuvia of a Golden Ringed Dragonfly- unmistakable if you get a head on view of the zig zag join between the labial palps on the face area.

Elsewhere Jan saw an ovipositing female Emperor being closely inspected by a male Azure Damselfly at Prees Heath (far below left). And last but by no means least a Black-tailed Skimmer was photographed at Venus Pool eating a White-legged Damselfly male who was tandem ovipositing! Made me wonder is the female could make good her escape or weather she was trapped in the male claspers?!

Ruddy Darter on the wing…

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These fabulous photos of Ruddy Darter have been sent in by Jim Almond. Taken at Venus Pool they show a male with a clearly waisted abdomen, black legs (no yellow stripe as seen in Common Darter), a ruddy frons (face area) and a diagnostic black T shape on top of the thorax.

Further a field Stephen Barlow has photographed what are presumably the last few White-faced Darters for this year at Whixall Moss (far below left and right). This is definitely a Spring species which dwindles at this time of year just as Common, Ruddy and Black Darter really take to the skies.

The well named Variable Damselfly…

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Jim Almond has sent in these great photos of Variable Damselfly taken at a private site in Shropshire. It’s a great name as the markings can often show variability making identification challenging for this rarity. A textbook Variable Damselfly male will have exclamation marks (or broken stripes) on top of the thorax as seen below left. The male shown immediately left however has complete antehumeral stripes and so other features such as the black marking at the base of the abdomen and the shape of the trailing edge of the pronotum will help distinguish this species from the very common Azure Damselfly. A female is also shown below right and far below we have two fabulous photos of a female Brown Hawker ovipositing and a female Broad-bodied Chaser.

White-faced Darters still about..

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David Williams has been enjoying White-faced Darters still on the wing at Whixall Moss. I would expect an individual of this early spring species to look far more world weary in late June, but this male looks fabulous!

And back at home David is keeping a close eye on those Broad-bodied Chaser larvae…and you need to as they’re very camouflaged in all the pond debris as seen below. David’s pleased to see they’ve already doubled in size…bringing them up to a mighty 3mm! A few have been stalking among stems of vegetation in the pond but mostly they are just waiting at the shallower pond edges for prey to come to them.