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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 open during  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.

Southern Hawkers emerging…

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Jan Shields has sent in some lovely photos of Southern Hawker emerging from her garden pond…15 so far and probably many more by the time I write this! The male is seen here (left) with a distinctive waisted abdomen, not seen in the stockier female.

Sian Mercer has also sent in a photo of Common Darter  (far below left) at Prees Heath with the yellow stripe on the black legs clearly visible.

Golden-ringed on the wing and some stunning Emperor pics…

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Paul Spear has sent in the first photo of Golden-ringed Dragonfly in a somewhat ‘wonky’ state seen at Catherton Common. He has also sent in these stunning photos of male and female Emperors. The flight shot of the male (below left) shows clearly how the legs are tucked away in flight before bringing them out to land in the next photo- amazing!

Stephen Barlow has also sent in a great photo of a male Black-tailed Skimmer doing lunch (menu unidentified) and a teneral male Common Blue Damselfly showing hardly any blue at all…more like grey in this immature state.

High Summer…

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Jan Shields has returned to Aston Locks to enjoy a good number of species on the wing. Common Darter (left with visible yellow stripe on leg), Black-tailed Skimmer (below left), Four-spotted Chaser (below right) and Red-eyed Damselfly (far below left and right) pictured here ovipositing amid the ripples. Jan also saw Emperor and Beautiful Demoiselle before returning home to find a Southern Hawker had emerged from her own pond in her absence!

The eggs have hatched!

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Following on from David Williams amazing photos of Broad-bodied Chaser eggs….they have now hatched and David has sent in some photos of the larvae. They are around 1.5mm in size and the photograph (left) shows how large the remaining eggs still appear in comparison. Faced with the prospect of supplying these larvae with small enough food (Daphnia apparently far too improbable) David has decided to return them to the pond to let nature provide! Great photos providing a real insight to the life stages we so rarely see.