Dodging showers last weekend at Preston Montford on the dragonfly course we saw numerous Southern Hawkers emerging and finally an adult female on the wing on the Sunday. Jan Shields has also seen this fabulous male (left) showing ‘text book’ head lights (broad antehumeral stripes) and tail lights (the continuous bands of colour at the end of the abdomen). Jan has also sent in 2 great shots of immature Darters; a Ruddy Darter (below left) with black legs, a ‘T’ on top of the thorax and a clear frons side line, and secondly a Common Darter (below right) with antehumeral stripes and stripes down the legs clearly visible.
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Jim Almond has been enjoying Ruddy Darters at Venus Pool since 8th July and has sent in a couple of pics of males. On the left we have a fully mature male with the distinctive bright red coloration and below left an immature male showing colours similar to the female, but clearly showing the waisted and clubshaped abdomen of the male. Stephen Barlow has also seen the odd late White-faced Darter still on the wing at Whixall Moss, spotting this mating pair (below right) on the 15th July.
Gary Crowder has sent in some stunning photos from Cramer Gutter in South Shropshire. A Beautiful Demoiselle (left) living up to it’s name and Broad-bodied Chaser (below left) and Common Hawker (below right). The females below are at opposite ends of adult life with the Broad-bodied Chaser looking fairly old and the Common Hawker fairly fresh. This is to be expected with the former being a spring species and the latter being a late summer/early autumn species only just emerging in recent days.
Stephen Barlow (who is an excellent photographer!) has just managed to get proof of Lesser Emperor seen yesterday at Alderford Lake. Stephen has observed this species at other locations in previous years and knew as the dragonfly hovered that it was smaller in size than the other Emperors also on the wing (shown below). Despite the blur in this photo (left) you can clearly see the striking blue saddle that stands out against the brown thorax and abdomen, and even the green eyes are visible. This is the 2nd ever recording of this migrant species in Shropshire and with reports of migrants appearing around the UK this is a great year to keep a keen eye out for something a bit different!
Jan Shields has been out in the sunshine at Carding Mill Valley enjoying the spectacular Golden- ringed Dragonflies. The photos show the striking green eyes coming together at a point and also the beautifully waisted abdomen of the male…and of course the golden rings! Jan also sent in another lovely shot of a Four-spotted Chaser seen at Mousecroft Pool.
Keep an eye out for unusual migrant species in Shropshire. The recent weather has produced some unconfirmed (as yet) sightings of Red Veined Darter and individuals are being seen in neighbouring counties. Please let us know if you see something unusual and if possible please get a photo- I’m aware this is easier said then done! Full details on Red-veined Darter, Lesser Emperor and Vagrant Emperor on the species pages.
No photos yet, but confirmed sightings from Stephen Barlow on Whixall Moss of Brown Hawker and a teneral Common Hawker. I also was overtaken (!) on my bike by a Brown Hawker this last Saturday in the incredible heat. Stephen has sent in some lovely pics of an immature male Black Darter. The coloration is the same as the female with a black triangle on top of the thorax and a yellow splash pattern on the side. The abdomen of the male is clearly waisted here and would be far stockier in the female.
A quick reminder from the weather that it is actually June (!) and all sorts of things take to the wing; Steven Barlow reports female Emperor ovipositing at Whixall Moss and Black Darters being seen just over the border on the moss in Wales. I then strolled into the garden on Saturday morning to see 3 Common Darters emerging from our pond- photographed here next to the exuviae. To get to this fence post the mature larvae will have crawled about 1m away from the water.
Somehow between downpours we managed a Biolinks recording day on Tuesday at Whixall Moss and Alderford Lake. At Whixall we were treated to 8 species including White-faced Darters, numerous White-legged Damselflies and a good number of teneral Emerald Damselflies. Alderford Lake produced the first known Black-tailed Skimmer sighting this year in Shropshire- the immature male photographed by Stephen Barlow (left) showing all the patterns and coloration also seen on females. Damselflies were in good numbers at Alderford and Stephen’s photos of two mating pairs below provide a nice comparison of Common Blue (middle) and Azure (right) damselfly. We also saw numerous Blue-tailed Damselflies in a range of colour forms. The picture below (left) shows a female with the bicoloured pterostigma just visible on the wings.