The good news is that despite a few difficulties associated with species identification, there are also a number of things that make life easier!

Habitat

Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Photograph ©  M. Randall

Though a number of species are common and widespread throughout the county a good number are also strongly associated with particular habitat. Knowing the species you are most likely to observe at a particular habitat type can be of great assistance in identification. A species preferred habitat may be as broad as flowing or still water, or more specific such as fast flowing acidic heathland streams- the habitat in which you find the Golden-ringed Dragonfly shown above . Habitat information is contained in each species description and the Habitat pages also summarise species-habitat associations.

Flight Period

Large Red Damselfly male
Photograph ©  G. Hiatt

Each species has a typical flight period which may be relatively narrow or may extend over a number of months. When starting out it is useful to check flight periods and see which species you are likely to see at any given time. For example, starting in late April the only species likely to be on the wing in Shropshire is the Large Red Damselfly pictured above.

Behaviour

Southern Hawker
Photograph ©  P. Spear

Certain species display characteristic behaviour such as the Southern Hawker shown above – known to be particularly inquisitive of dragonfly recorders standing near ponds! Where specific information is useful this is given in the species descriptions.

Dragonfly Categories

Most dragonflies are placed in one of the broad categories shown below dependent upon their body shape and behaviour. An awareness of such categories can be useful when observing the behaviour of an unknown individual. NB. Damselflies are not grouped in this way, but tend to be casually grouped according to their colour.

Hawkers

Medium to large dragonflies observed flying backwards and forwards over the water. All belong to the family Aeshnidae.

Chasers

Medium dragonflies that typically fly from a perch to chase prey or females or to deter other males before returning to the same perch. 3 species in Shropshire belonging to the genus Libellula. Rarely seen basking on bare ground.

Skimmers

Small to medium sized dragonflies often observed skimming low over the water surface or perched on vegetation or bare ground. 2 species in Shropshire belonging to the genus Orthetrum.

Darters

Small dragonflies typically observed perching on vegetation from where they dart out and return to the same place. Also often observed basking on bare ground.