Shropshire Dragonfly Watch BlogKeeping an eye on the dragonflies flying in Shropshire

Common Darter male

The purpose of this blog is to keep dragonfly enthusiasts up to date with dragonfly activity throughout the season. This way we should all know first hand what’s on the wing in Shropshire.

 

All are very welcome to be part of this seasonal diary. Get in touch at  info@shropshiredragonflies.co.uk with sightings and photographs so I can post them on the blog. Even if you’re new to dragonflies and not sure what you have photographed please send it in and get involved in the 2021 Shropshire Dragonfly Watch.

Beauties at the Bog…

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Jan Shields has sent in some lovely photos from the Bog, Stiperstones. Pictured left is the UK’s largest dragonfly the Emperor and if you look closely you can see nearly all of an Emerald Damselfly going down the hatch. Truly incredible to see the size difference between the 2!

Below is a female Brown Hawker ovipositing and enabling us to see those magnificent brown wings. It’s amazing to think on emergence these structures are completely crumpled rather like wet washing! The emerging Common Hawker (far below left) shows this beautifully and within half an hour they are recognisable (far below right) as wings.

Common Hawker- female blue form

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Andy Warr has been enjoying the dragonflies at Pole Cottage Pools on the Long Mynd and has come across the rarer female blue form of Common Hawker. Usually the females are brown with yellow spots as shown in the photograph below left so this is a nice find! Andy also took this lovely flight shot of the male Common Hawker (below right) along with Emerald Damselfly (far below left) and a selection of great photos of Black Darter. The last 2 photos show a female on the right and a male on the left. Female darters can be challenging and in this case you need to look for the black triangle on top of the thorax and 3 yellow spots on the side. Distinctive inverted T shapes are also visible on segments 8 and 9 of the abdomen.

Migrant Hawker on the wing…

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Stephen Barlow has seen 2 Migrant Hawker on Prees Heath. Firstly a male flying past and then a female who conveniently stopped for a photo. The picture shows the distinctive long anal appendages of the female. The reduced antehumeral stripes and the golf tee shape on segment 2 of the abdomen are diagnostic of this species and also seen on the males.

Now for something completely different..

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This is a sighting made by Lauren Ollie Waldron in April 2020 which has only recently come to my attention…so I’m posting it 16 moths late (!) because it’s still worth sharing. Lauren spotted a few damselflies in her flat in Shrewsbury and despite looking like very early Blue-tailed Damselflies they were in fact an exotic species called Marsh Bluetail Ischnura senegalensis. Correctly identified by Adrian Parr (the British Dragonfly Society Migrants officer) this is a species from SE Asia known to occasionally turn up in imported water weeds for fish tanks…and sure enough Lauren had recently set up her own tropical tank. Identifying features to split this species from our native Blue-tailed Damselfly are no blue coloration at all on segment 7 of the abdomen (blue ‘bleeds’ into the side/underside of segment 7 in Blue-tailed) and a striking black ‘saddle marking’ on top of segment 2 (where our Blue-tailed has a simple dark upper surface).

A fascinating find and always nice to know there’s something exotic in Shrewsbury!

Another encore from White-faced Darters!

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One more just for luck! Well 2 actually, seen by Stephen Barlow at Whixall Moss on 21st July chasing off an Emperor Dragonfly and reportedly being far more effective at this than Common Hawkers. The photo below left shows some wing damage from wear and tear but the few individuals that are left are clearly still holding territory when and where possible.

Stephen’s photo of a Common Hawker is lovely to see as this species is known to be ‘relentless on the wing’ and is therefore a tricky subject for photos. The paired blue spots extending down the abdomen do not merge on segments 9 & 10 to form a continuous band of colour as seen in Southern Hawker

Species recorded in 2021…

Large Red Damselfly

15th April

Four-spotted Chaser

22nd April

White-faced Darter

25th April

Blue-tailed Damselfly

26th April

Variable Damselfly

26th April

Azure Damselfly

10th May

Red-eyed Damselfly

14th May

Broad-bodied Chaser

17th May

Beautiful Demoiselle

18th May

Common Clubtail

19th May

Banded Demoiselle

19th May

Common Blue Damselfly

27th May

White-legged Damselfly

27th May

Emperor Dragonfly

31st May

Downy Emerald

9th June

Black-tailed Skimmer

9th June

Emerald Damselfly

14th June

Golden-ringed Dragonfly

16th June

Black Darter

22nd June

Common Darter

24th June

Common Hawker

24th June

Southern Hawker

1st July

Brown Hawker

4th July

Ruddy Darter

18th July

Keeled Skimmer

19th July

Migrant Hawker

26th July