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Stepping Stones ProjectHelp our Upland Dragonflies

Stepping Stones is a landscape-scale nature conservation project in the Shropshire Hills. The project area covers over 200km2 within the Shropshire Hills AONB and includes 2 major sites of conservation importance: Long Mynd SSSI and the Stiperstones NNR. The project aims to connect wildlife habitats by strengthening existing habitat and creating stepping stones and corridors of habitat between and around the 2 aforementioned sites. Species Action Plans (SAPs) have been produced by Natural England and the Stepping Stones Project for 12 species that rely on particular habitat types that we are trying to connect. One of the SAPs is for Upland Dragonflies and I am ‘championing’ the cause.

The recent State of Dragonflies Report (Taylor et al, 2021) illustrated how a number of our upland dragonfly species are declining nationally. Black Darter and Golden-ringed Dragonfly form the focus of the Stepping Stones SAP, chosen as they occupy different upland habitat types. It is hoped that if we improve the quality and quantity and connectedness of both habitat types then far more of our upland species will benefit. The full SAP can be viewed by clicking on the document right, but essentially the first step is we need to know more about the current distribution of our upland species and the quality and location of upland pools and streams that we have. Once we have a more accurate picture we can decide where habitat creation, links and improvements would be most beneficial.

So how can you help?

There are 3 ways to get involved depending on your dragonfly identification experience…

If you have NO EXPERIENCE it would be great if you could go…

INVESTIGATING : Sign up to investigate 1 or a few monads (1km squares) in the project area. You will check your monad 3 times during May-Sept 2023 for the presence of pools and streams with dragonflies, any evidence of breeding (mating, egg laying or presence of exuviae), and any evidence of old vegetated pools/dried up streams that could be reinstated.

The map of the project area showing the monads can be accessed here: MONAD MAP

When you choose a monad there are things to consider:

  • you should only visit the monad in good weather so it may be useful to be local
  • only investigate areas of the monad that are legally and practically accessible and likely to have dragonfly habitat. If you are not on a public right of way you must have the landowners permission.
  • this project is focusing on upland dragonfly habitat so try and pick relevant monads to investigate. To assist with this there is a map of the project area here showing the relief of the land and the areas where we have recorded the upland species Black Darter: RELIEF MAP

If you are interested in helping out please contact me via the contact form. I will sign you up and send you a copy of the investigation form. You can also see this form by following this link as it helps explain the role: INVESTIGATION FORM

If you have EXPERIENCE you may wish to help by…

MONITORING: individuals or groups to visit either Wildmoor Pool or The Bog monthly from May-Sept to carry out standardised monitoring.

These sites are easily accessed and known to support upland species. If interested please get in touch and I will discuss with you the different levels of monitoring and time commitment required. I can also direct you to useful survey forms and will arrange to visit the site with you so you are happy to go ahead. Monitoring is a long term commitment if it is to produce meaningful results and must be standardised to it is easily repeatable by yourself or others for years to come. If we set up these regular surveys now we can see if our upland species are showing declines similar to the national picture and hopefully turn things around.

GENERAL HELP: Assistance in visiting and checking sites discovered by our monad investigators.

If investigations reveal many new sites I simply will not be able to visit everywhere so if you know your dragonflies and think you could help me please drop me an email. Going forward I’d also be interested to hear from you if you have hands on wetland habitat management experience.

Many thanks for all and any help and please do get in touch via the contact form to sign up or simply with queries.