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.
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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!
Amazingly this discreet rare Shropshire species has been seen at another new site! – this time Titterstone Clee Hill, recorded by Jason Kernohan along with Common Hawkers and Azure, Blue-tailed, Common Blue and Emerald Damselflies. The recorded male is pictured left clearly showing the diagnostic ochre coloured pterostigma. It would appear that Keeled Skimmer is having an interesting year so definitely keep an eye out for these unobtrusive fliers in acidic upland flush areas.
I was teaching a dragonfly ID course last weekend and we were out with nets in the torrid heat at Wildmoor Pool when one of the participants Carol Harvey caught a dragonfly. I removed it expecting to see a Black Darter and brilliantly it was a Keeled Skimmer- great catch Carol! Jennifer Lucas took these clear photos which have also enabled me to ask Bob Kemp to verify it- mainly because it was a fairly old and drab specimen and also because it’s the first record at Wildmoor Pool which is heavily recorded. There is a population some distance from the pool so it remains to be seen if this was an accidental occurrence or if they are establishing a second population…
Whixall Moss has historically produced a few suspected sightings of Keeled Skimmer, the photographic proof being provided by Lee Wilkinson back in 2013. All has been quiet-ish since then…again with a number of possible unconfirmed reports-until now. Stephen Barlow has seen several possible sightings this year and photographed this male seen here on the left. This hopefully indicates that this species is resident and successfully breeding at Whixall Moss so keep us posted on any more sightings. Just be aware that Black-tailed Skimmer is also blue and medium sized and resident at Whixall as picture below (male left, female right).
Stephen Barlow has sent in a couple of photos illustrating the last days of the White-faced Darter flight season. Whilst other species such as Emerald Damselflies and Black Darters are on the rise, the remaining White-faced Darters are narrowly avoiding being eaten by birds (below) and not avoiding being eaten by magnificent Diving Beetles (left)!
One hot day after another- quite incredible! Jan Shields has been observing numerous Ruddy Darters basking in the sun’s rays at Venus Pool and sent in this fabulous shot of a mating pair. The photo below left also shows a male with solid black legs distinguishing him from Common Darters with a yellow stripe running down the legs. Jan also recorded this Emperor (below right) who on closer inspection is showing several signs of wear and tear!
One week away enjoying the gales and rain of Norway and so much happens! All this fabulous weather has encouraged 3 more species onto the wing. Ruddy Darter has been recorded and beautifully photographed by Paul Spear at Venus Pools. The male (left) clearly illustrates why this species is so named with it’s vibrant blood red colour and the female is shown below. Stephen Barlow has also seen the first Southern Hawkers on the wing at Whixall Moss. His picture (below right) clearly shows the broad antehumeral stripes on this immature male. Stephen has also photographed the first Black Darters at Whixall Moss (far below left) not to be confused with a few old White-faced Darters still hanging on in ever decreasing numbers.
Jason Kernohan has been on the trail of the aptly named Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly on Titterstone Clee Hill. Sadly to no avail this time, but he did find the first evidence of Common Hawker emerging this season with this fabulous exuviae. Don’t forget they are the best records to get as they are proof of successful breeding. I’m really enjoying all the exuviae emerging from our relatively new pond this year- up to about 25 Common Darter so far!