Monsoon conditions today, but last weeks wonderful weather brought the late summer dragons out and about. Jan Shields described a ‘Dragon Fest’ at Snailbeach where large numbers of ovipositing Common Darter (left) were covering the whole of one edge of the reservoir. Southern Hawker (below left) were also present in good numbers along with Brown Hawker, Ruddy Darter and Emerald Damselflies. An earlier visit to Mousecroft Pool also revealed a good number of Migrant Hawkers also on the wing (male below middle, female below right).
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The recent hot spell has brought in some fabulous photos; firstly this male Migrant Hawker in flight taken by Jan Shields at Mousecroft Pool near Shrewsbury and secondly (below) a beautiful shot of a female Brown Hawker ovipositing taken by Mick Richardson at Priorslee Flash, Telford. It’s always interesting to see how dragonflies can tuck their legs so neatly away in flight.
Jan Shields has been enjoying the Keeled Skimmers up at Crammer Gutter on Catherton Common. This species is a real habitat specialist being found on boggy flushes and runnels on some of our Shropshire heathland. Both males (left) and females (below left) have noticeable ochre coloured pterostigma and antehumeral stripes. Jan also got 2 nice shots of tandem pairs and far below left you can clearly see the female legs which can often rub off the blue coloration on the male abdomen during mating. Golden-ringed Dragonflies were also at Crammer Gutter and Black Darters- the smallest dragonfly in the UK.
Mick Richardson has sent in some stunning photos including yet another sighting of our new Shropshire species for 2019; Small Red-eyed Damselfly. Mick saw 10+ individuals at Green Pond near Albrighton and new immediately what they were as he is normally resident in Southern Spain where they are regular visitors to his own pond. Mick also sent in the photos below of Emerald Damselfly (left) and Azure Damselfly (right), the Azure being really quite a late record for this species in Shropshire.
John Barratt has been observing Brown Hawkers on the wing at Cricklade and sent in these interesting pics. Males are often seen curling up the end of the abdomen in the process of transferring sperm, but here we have the female apparently mimicking the action. Discussing this with Bob Kemp reveals he has witnessed this behaviour in several of the hawker females and it is most likely a deterrent to the pursuing male. Another interesting tack to take having heard last year about female Common Hawkers dropping out of the sky and feigning death to avoid mating!
Jan Shields has sent in some great pics of our high summer species seen at Snailbeach and at Mousecroft Pool in Shrewsbury. This Common Darter male (left) shows the diagnostic striped legs and antehumeral stripes. Below left Ruddy Darters can be seen in tandem, the male and female having solid black legs and no antehumeral stripes- rather a black T shape on the thorax. Below right are Emerald Damselflies in tandem showing how much narrower the male abdomen is in comparison to the female. The bottom 2 photos show hawker females ovipositing; a close up of the Brown Hawker (left) and the Southern Hawker (right).
Another record of Small Red-eyed Damselfly has come in from Meurig Garbutt who saw numerous individuals including this one (left) at Dudmaston on 5th August. The photo shows the blue pigment on the sides of segments 2,3 and 8 as well as the black X mark on the top of segment 2. Faint brown antehumeral stripes are also visible. Keep us posted if you see this species as it will be interesting to see how quickly it spreads throughout Shropshire.
And just for the sake of completeness, the female Migrant Hawker also sent in by Peter Roberts. This picture shows the long anal appendages and the very faint reduced antehumeral stripes. Most noticeable as always is the yellow ‘golf tee’ shape on top of segment 2 of the abdomen- just as in the male.
Peter Roberts has recorded Migrant Hawker in his garden in Woore – way up in North East Shropshire. Peter’s photo shows the immature male and though the colors are pale the diagnostic ‘golf tee’ shape is clearly visible on segment 2 of the abdomen as are the reduced antehumeral stripes and 2 ‘racing stripes’ on the side of the thorax. The only ‘likely outstanding species’ not recorded yet this year are Keeled Skimmer and Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly, both of which should currently be on the wing so keep us posted with any sightings.