Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Darters on Posts

We still have strong numbers of Common Darters around the County, with records from Woodford, Wilson's Pits, Stanwick Lakes, Weldon and Summer Leys to name a few. At Summer Leys today, I counted 40+ basking on the fence posts around the car park. If you scale this up for the whole reserve, there could be several hundred left.








Wednesday, 7 November 2018

End of the Willow Season and some early November Darters

With three visits to Finedon since 25 Oct and no more Willows, I guess their season is over. This is the last male I saw on 25th (and the first one not in a tree), 
and he looks in good nick so may be the frost got to him. Anyway, the eggs are protected for next year and I have found scars in all of the willow trees so we 
should be OK for 2019. 

I had an email from Froglife asking for confirmation of egg scars they found at a pond they were clearing in Cambs, so it's great to know I have saved them as well! 
Here are my first November Darters at Finedon. I'm sure they'll last a bit longer although I think December is looking unlikely.




Friday, 19 October 2018

Willow Emeralds still at it.

I met up with Ross and Michelle from Froglife while they were clearing the pond at Finedon. After a good chat, I was able to show them the Willow Emerald egg scars, and we were lucky enough to find a single adult. When I finished lunch and they had left, I surveyed he willow trees and found two more males and a mating pair, who promptly went to on egg lay higher up in the tree - I managed a great shot with the blue sky behind. It was a shame that Ross & Michelle didn't see this, but at least they know what to look for when they manage other ponds in the region. The only other species present was Common Darter. The willows are looking a little bear of leaves now which perhaps mades the adults easier to find. I found more egg scars too, so it looks good for 2019 with plenty of eggs due to hatch.




Wednesday, 10 October 2018

More October Willow Emeralds

The Willows Emeralds were showing well today, including one flexing its muscles (show-off!). There are plenty of egg scars now at Finedon, where I spotted a sign put up by Froglife, who are planning a clearance of the pond on 19 Oct. 

I wrote to them, and it was just as well I did because they told me they planned to remove all the willows from the pond - aaargh. Luckily, they have listened to me and promised not to touch them. Phew! 

Also seen were many Common Darters and ovipositing Migrant and Southern Hawkers.





Monday, 8 October 2018

Willow Emeralds at Barnwell Country Park

I thought I was lucky to find this Willow Emerald in October, at Finedon (photo below) until I read James Underwood's post on our facebook group about his find at Barnwell Country Park!. So far, Willow Emeralds have been recorded at:

Finedon Pocket Park
Fermyn Woods Country Park
Priors Hall
Barnwell Country Park

As autumn is well and truly established, now is a good time to look for their egg scars a trees loose their leaves.

Male Willow Emerald at Finedon Pocket Park

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Willow Emeralds at Fermyn Woods Country Park

I visited Fermyn Woods today with the intention of capturing Southern Hawkers flying around the Big Pit Pond. There wasn't much activity, which was fine because I found two sets of Willow Emerald egg-laying scars, and had a fleeting glance of an adult. I spoke to the rangers who were very excited at the news. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Those pesky Willows again

Despite a real lack of sightings of the adult Willow Emeralds - my max at one time is four - I am still finding new & fresh egg-laying scars on the willow tress at Finedon. On Monday, I saw two males, and today found three new scar tracts. I've seen many photos on facebook from nearby St. Neots that show good activity and plenty of adults, so I'm really frustrated by ours. I hope that the new sightings at Priors Hall lead to a new colony, and the nearby Weldon pond looks promising too.

I'm posting a picture of today's fresh scars so please keep an eye out for similar scars on branches overhanging the water - these may be the easiest way to spot this elusive species.

Around the County, plenty of Migrant Hawkers, Southern Hawkers and Common Darters are being seen, for example at Sywell Country Park, Barnwell Country Park and Summer Leys. Roland Bogush even recorded Common Blue Damselflies at Sywell.

Male Common Darter

Male Willow Emerald 

Male Willow Emerald

Fresh egg-laying scars

Monday, 17 September 2018

Second Willow Emerald Damselfly site

James Underwood has posted photos of a female Willow Emerald at Priors Hall near Corby. A great second site and one that I hope yields breeding.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Those frustrating Willow Emeralds

Those Willow Emeralds are getting to be a right pain in the a**e. They are so hard to spot, and still in such low numbers that you can spend hours looking for them and not see any or only see 1-2 males. 2.5 hours today and only 2 males, but at least yesterday I was able to point one out to Bob who'd made 3 previous trips without success. Still, there was plenty of other activity at Finedon, with 3 mating pairs of Migrant Hawkers, ovipositing females, plenty of Common and Ruddy Darters, Southern Hawkers and a single normal Emerald.


Migrant Hawker

Male Willow Emerald

Southern Hawker

Willow Emerald

Willow Emerald

Willow Emerald

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

More Willows

I met up with Darryl at Finedon this lunchtime and we found 4 Willow Emeralds including a mating pair. Unfortunatley, they remained high up in the tree tantalisingly out of reach. Even when they flew around, we didn't manage to photograph them. One male perched on a branch quite close to the bank and we got some good shots when the sun burst through the clouds.


Monday, 20 August 2018

They're back!

I'm relieved to report that the Willow Emeralds are back at Finedon. I was beginning to give up hope, after so many other Counties have been seeing them for several weeks now. My concerns were that the flood on the pond in late spring, which submerged the Willows, had killed the eggs. However this seems not to be the case.

Within a few minutes of arriving, I spotted a male perched on a stick, but before I got a shot off, he launched himself at a female and they both crash-landed in the water in front of me. I got a shot to confirm ID, and went to get a rescue stick, only to find on my return that they had already escaped. Despite 1 hour searching, I couldn't locate them again. At least they survived. Of course, there's still plenty of time to find more.

Also present were ~20 ovipositing pairs of Common Darters, Ruddy Darters, Brown Hawkers, Emeralds and Migrant Hawkers including this mating pair. I also saw a few Blue-tailed Damselflies.

Female Common Darter

Aging male Emerald Damselfly

Male and female Willow Emeralds crash-landed in the pond. They survived, but weren't seen again.

Ovipositing Brown Hawker

Mating pair of Migrant Hawkers

Thursday, 9 August 2018

An abundance of Migrant Hawkers

Migrant Hawkers are now building in  numbers quite rapidly and are showing well at territory at a number of sites. This is quite early as they are usually considered the autumn hawker (indeed that is the proposed new name for it). This species is great to watch at territory. These were taken at Ditchford.

No further sign of the Lesser Emperor.





Sunday, 5 August 2018

Lesser Emperor at Stanwick Lakes

This year has been a good one for migrants, with an invasion of Southern Migrant Hawkers and a Yellow-spotted Emerald seen in Suffolk. I haven't heard of too many Red-veined Darters though, but plenty of Lesser Emperors have been recorded across the UK. 

To date, Northants has largely escaped these invaders, until that is, Doug Goddard reported a male Lesser Emperor at Stanwick Lakes (see Doug's photo below) on 3 August. Naturally, this prompted some excitement and, separately, around 8 of us went down to the Lakes today (4th) hoping he would show again - guess what, nothing. In fact there were so few dragonflies about , perhpos due to the recent heatwave. We did see a few Migrants, Brown Hawkers, Emperors, Common & Ruddy Darters, Brown Hawkers, Banded Demoiselles, Common Blue and Red-eyed Damselflies but in relatively small numbers. There were plenty of blue-form female Common Blues that seem more common at this time in the season.

So, although the Lesser Emperor didn't show, he (or others) may well turn up at other sites along the Nene valley.


Lesser Emperor at Stanwick Lakes (photo by Doug Goddard)

Mating Common Blue Damselflies, female of the blue colour form

Female Emperor

Mating Common Blue Damselflies, female of the blue colour form

Friday, 27 July 2018

Lyveden New Bield

I find Small Red-eyes very addictive at this time of year! During today's 2pm summer finish, I went to Lyveden New Bield, which I rate in Northants top 5 best dragonfly sites. Here I saw hundreds of Small Red-eyes, many egg-laying. Also present were a handful of Four-spotted Chasers, 20+ Emperors, loads of Common Blues and Blue-tails too. A few Brown Hawkers, Ruddy DartersEmeralds and Azures completed the tally for the afternoon.


Four-spotted Chaser

Male Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Ovipositing pair of Small Red-eyes

Ovipositing pair of Small Red-eyes

Ovipositing pair of Small Red-eyes

Ovipositing pair of Small Red-eyes

Resting Emperor

Ruddy Darter