…well a dog bed to be precise! Graham Wenman has sent in some photos of the Large Red Damselfly larvae he found residing in his ‘dog bed pond’. The larvae are squat and distinctive and you can see the noticeable right angles at the hind corners of the head. These larvae are mature and will be ready to emerge as soon as we get through the April snows! It’s amazing how even a small body of water can support so much life and looking at the photo, a dog bed clearly makes a great little pond.
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Inspired by the warmth in the sun yesterday I was sifting a few leaves off the garden pond and unexpectedly pulled out a number of larvae; 2 huge chasers and a good few Large Red Damselflies. I was surprised how mature they all looked and thought I better give you all the heads up. Obviously I returned them all to the pond, but I’m definitely keeping a close eye! This lovely photo of Large Red Damselfly is from Jan Shields last year…but I’m hoping to see something similar peaking around the vegetation in the not too distant. Please let me know if you see the start of the Shropshire flight season…
Having been unexpectedly unable to blog for a few weeks I thought I’d post some photos of our autumnal regulars; Migrant Hawker (female left and male below), Brown Hawker (male below right) and Black Darter (male left and female right far below). The Hawkers were taken by Jan Shields in late September and the Darters by Stephen Barlow at Whixall Moss in mid October. The last local sightings reported were again by Stephen of a Common Hawker on 22nd October so it would be interesting to know if anyone has seen anything on the wing since…
Also, please don’t forget to send in your records of sightings to Vicky so she can report on the dragonfly comings and goings in 2020. Thank you.
Andrew Fusek Peters has sent in some truly stunning photos taken on 29th September on the Long Mynd. Andrew took these pictures at dawn and has been rewarded with the amazing spectacle of dew on the the wings of these autumn regulars. A female Black Darter is picture left and Emerald Damselflies below- the female with brown and emerald coloration and the male (far below) with a beautiful powder blue pruinescence on the thorax.
All this fabulous autumnal weather means there are still a good number of dragonflies about. Miles Leach was enjoying the sunshine on Monday at Boyne Water on Brown Clee and reports dozens of Black Darter (photo left) mating and ovipositing. He also took these lovely shots of Brown Hawker (below left) and Common Hawker (below right) females ovipositing. The yellow costa (leading edge of wing) is really striking in the Common Hawker. Amongst the other species seen were Southern Hawker, Emerald Damselfly and Common Darter- a great September day!
Jim Almond has been back to Dudmaston and taken these fabulous photos of Small Red-eyed Damselfly seen in good numbers on the main pond. Jim saw lots of copulating pairs perhaps making the most of the warmth before this very autumnal turn in the weather! It’s really great to see this new Shropshire species for the second year running and all this activity bodes well for the future population at Dudmaston.
Who’d have thought you could get too hot up on the Longmynd? Miles Leach has taken this great shot of a Black Darter male obelisking at Pole Cottage Pools. Usually such black coloration helps to absorb the suns heat, but on those very occasional hot August afternoons things can get too much and so the abdomen is directed toward the sun reducing the surface area exposed to the full impact of the rays.
Elsewhere Miles was surprised to see his first Common Hawker (male shown below) near Tugford, some distance from the acidic pools of Brown Clee Hill. Seen hawking for insects near a stream, this male had fairly opaque wings illustrating it’s recent emergence and perhaps explaining why it was keeping a distance from more typical (and competitive) habitat areas until mature.
Jan Shields has sent in this stunning in flight shot of a Southern Hawker taken at Mousecroft Pool near Shrewsbury. Unfortunately numbers and abundance of species appears to be low possibly due to disturbance from current works going on in and around the pond. Southern Hawker is often a regular at garden ponds and back at Jan’s own pond Common Darters were emerging. These photos illustrate some of this extraordinary process and it’s amazing to see how much the abdomen extends once pulled out of the exuvia.
Jim Almond has seen the first Shropshire Migrant Hawkers on the wing at Venus Pool. Having followed what he thought was initially a male on the wing close up shots eventually revealed this female with long anal appendages and a thick (not waisted) abdomen. The initial confusion was caused by the blue coloration on the abdomen usually just seen in males, but occasionally witnessed in females too. I should also mention the main diagnostic feature of all Migrant Hawkers both male and female- the yellow golf tee shape on segment 2 of the abdomen- beautifully illustrated here.