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 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.

Completing the Variable picture..

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Earlier this month Jim Almond sent in photos of the female Variable Damselfly blue form and to complete the picture we now have a female dark form (left and below left). These striking pictures not only show the absence of any noticeable blue coloration, but also highlight the deeply lobed trailing edge of the pronotum. Below right is pictured a teneral male. As he matures the blue coloration will develop, but we can clearly see the black spur on the side of the thorax and some beautiful exclamation marks on top of the thorax- both important diagnostic features.

Hairy things to bear in mind…

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Just a reminder that last spring in the Wyre Forest we saw the first Hairy Dragonflies in Shropshire for a while. The most recent previous confirmed record was a one-off sighting at Whixall Moss in 2013. This small Hawker is the only Hawker on the wing so early in the year so should be noticeable. In neighbouring Worcestershire last year they had 17 sightings -just as unusual for them, so please keep an eye out and we’ll see what happens this year…

Taking a closer look…

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Another glorious photo of a recently emerged Four-spotted Chaser has been sent in by Stephen Barlow. I’ve zoomed in on a couple of areas just to enjoy the finer detail. Below left you can see the black patches of pigment at the base of the hind wings…a diagnostic feature shared by all chasers in the UK. Also noticeable is just how hairy these insects are, presumably equipping them well to be an early spring species (especially in a spring like this)! Below right we get a lovely view of the yellow cross veins on the wings and the darker longitudinal veins. If you look carefully the reflected light also enables you to see the wing is not a flat structure, but is more ‘pleated’ rather like a paper fan.

Beautiful spring weather?!

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Well fleeting glimpses of sunshine and thunderous downpours of hail aren’t your classic recipe for successful dragonfly emergence. Stephen Barlow took this beautiful photo of a Four-spotted Chaser at Whixall Moss that had somehow completed the process unscathed, but days earlier he encountered a couple of White-faced Darters with their wings stuck together having been buffeted about in the breeze. One of these is shown below left and very carefully Stephen was able to free up their wings using a grass blade which proved successful as shown below right. Let’s hope the weather sorts itself out soon!

Variable Damselfly and the joys of identification…

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Jim Almond has spotted this fabulous female Variable Damselfly at a private site near Shrewsbury. The photographs illustrate the challenges of identification. Variables (as the name suggests) can be very Variable and the females are challenging as they look very like the female blue form of the common and widespread Azure damselfly. Things to look for (below right) are a pale bar between the eye spots and a more deeply lobed pronotum than that seen in the Azure. Also (below left) there is a greater percentage of blue coloration on abdominal segments 4 and 5 than seen in Azure. If blue reaches more than a third of the way along the segment this indicates a Variable. Jim and I have both had the rulers out and agree it’s 42-43%….so there we have it!

If you’re new to ID please don’t be put off as most identifications are far easier than this!

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