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Chilling off in Shropshire…

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Despite extensive searching Stephen Barlow found no further Common Darters at Whixall and the last known sighting was on 18th November but unfortunately on the Welsh side of the Moss! Keep me posted if you catch any last minute glimpses before colder weather sets in.

In the meantime Jan Shields has sent in some interesting pics taken in mid October. This female Southern Hawker was seen to move leaves- picking them up with her legs and ‘throwing’ them into the nearby pond. This enabled her to access the mossy stones underneath for egg laying. It seems a bizarre choice with a pond nearby, but she had apparently just had a near miss with a blackbird and was possibly looking for something more covert. Following this behaviour she then proceeded to lay eggs on a windfall apple for good measure! Jan will be keeping a close eye on this apple next spring!

Will it be a record breaking year?

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Stephen Barlow reports 2 more Common Darters seen at Whixall Moss on 13th November and ‘a hawker’ -the latter just inconveniently over the border in Wales! The latest recorded sighting of Common Darter in Shropshire was by Stephen on November 20th 2015 on Brown Moss which is only a week away so we could be on for a record breaker if things stay mild…

Knowing where to look…

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Stephen Barlow has been seeking out more early November Common Darters finding them in sun traps on Whixall Moss. Interestingly Stephen points out that due to the low sun at this time of year a northerly wind (though colder) can improve your chances of success as dragonflies can find sun traps that are both out of the wind and in the sun. When southerlies are blowing, the shelter from the wind is usually on the opposite side to the suntrap.

Lurking in the vegetation…

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Despite the recent hard frosts Stephen Barlow is still seeing a reasonable number of species lurking in the warmer spots on Whixall Moss. These pics of a female Migrant Hawker (left), Black Darter (below left) and Common Darter (below right) were all taken on 18th October, but Stephen has seen Common Darters flying on the 28th and 31st (Halloween!) October. With things warming a little we should definitely get a few hardy November records.

Still on the wing…

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Stephen Barlow reports Black Darter and Migrant Hawker still on the wing at Whixall Moss last week as well as Common Hawker – a female seen here with a very parallel sided abdomen, not waisted as in the male.

Please do keep us posted with any late sightings- Shropshire dragonflies have flown into November before….lets just see what happens after a cold weekend…

Black Darters on Titterstone Clee HIll

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Jason Kernohan has spotted 2 male Black Darters on Titterstone Clee Hill in south Shropshire -one photographed here showing the characteristic waisted abdomen of the male. Only a handful of Black Darter records have ever been made at this location so a really nice record to get.

Still on the wing….

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Jan Shields has been enjoying our late summer species at Mousecroft Pool including a number of Darters and Hawkers. The female in this pair of Migrant Hawkers illustrates the long anal appendages typical of this species. Below is a lovely picture of an ovipositing Southern Hawker and if you look closely you can see the blade like ovipositor cutting in to the plant.

Beauty at the Bog…

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Dawn Balmer has been visiting the Stiperstones area and The Bog Pool and enjoying 2 of our late summer species in all their glory! This stunning male Emerald Damselfly really lives up to it’s name with the sun catching the thorax. Below is pictured a male Black Darter showing a textbook waisted abdomen and fabulous black colouration.

Migrant Hawker on the wing

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Migrant Hawker finally confirmed on the wing and seen here by Jan Shields both at Whixall Moss and at Mousecroft Pool near Shrewsbury. Jan’s photos show clearly the reduced antehumeral stripes on the male thorax and you can just about make out the diagnostic ‘golf tee’ shape at the top of the abdomen on the in flight shot (below right). Jan has also been enjoying Brown and Common Hawkers, Emperors and Common and Black Darters (far below right) at Whixall Moss despite many dry pools. Emerald Damselfly (far below left) also seem to be surviving the heat and Jan recorded these unusually also at Mousecroft Pool.

Jan’s photo of a Common Hawker (left) shows the straight up-tilted abdomen in flight- a contrast to the slightly drooping abdomen of the Migrant Hawker in flight above.

Don’t forget to check the vegetation…

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David Goodwin has been in touch reporting over 60 Southern Hawker exuviae from his garden pond pictured below. David is based in Staffordshire, but such a focus on these ‘proof of breeding’ records deserves special mention! David has seen around 5 adults emerge from the pond, but the far greater number of exuviae clearly show how much activity there has been. It’s also a great reminder to check vegetation for exuviae, and indeed walls and fences as they can travel some distance!