Sunday, 4 October 2009

More Red-veined Darters



I visited again, hoping to find some males and again only found females, still they are very attractive and worth seeing. I met Jim D. and we saw 2-3 (it's dificult to tell when they are buzzing around). Also many pairs of mating Common Darter, a few Migrants and Common Blue Damselflies. I had to check all the male Darters just in case they were of the Red-veined variety.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Red-veined Darters turning Red



Graham Bentley shot this picture which shows a male turning red and getting its red veins. I visited today (Friday) to see how they were doing, but the weather was cool and cloudy and I only saw one female (top photo) and no males. I did find 4 emerging though, which is quite something for October.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Migrant Hawkers at Thrapston Lakes


Still plenty of Migrant Hawkers around at Thrapston Lakes, including this mating pair.

Red-veined Darters


Graham and I found about 4 more Red-veinded Darters today (26 Sept), all of them recently emerged, taking their first flights.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

More Red-veinded Darters Emerging


Jim Dunkley has sent me these photos from 22 Sept which show a male RvD recently emerged along with its exuvia. Note the bicoloured pterostigma on the wings and the reduced abdominal spines on the exuvia. The blue-grey eyes are not clear, perhaps because this is a very recently emerged adult.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Red-veined Darters AND Black Darter at Upton





Following the sightings of the Red-veined Darters oviposting at Upton, I have been visiting every week since the beginning of September to see if any adults had emerged. Well, today was the day!. I was with my son and we met Alan who was also looking for them. We were looking for exuviae in the reeds, when we spotted a Black Darter. Whether this is the same one seen by Doug Goddard at Weston Mill last week is not known, but if it isn't it means there may be more elsewhere. I managed to grab a couple of not very good pictures as it didn't settle for long. When we lost sight of it, we hunted in the ditch and noticed that a male Common Darter was attempting to mate with a very fresh looking female. This turned out to be a newly emerged Red-veined Darter. We got some good photos, and went on to see up to two more all of which were being harassed by male Common Darter. On the way back we located two exuviae.
The Red-veined Darters were beautiful (especially compared with the drab Black Darter). The contrast of the blue-grey lower half of the eyes with the red-brown upper part is incredible and the blue-grey really stands out. The coming week may see more emergences. It is expected that these adults will leave and fly south within a few weeks, and will not stay to breed.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Went to see the Black Darter


I went to Weston Mill pond today, but must have missed the Black Darter. As compensation, I got this shot of a Migrant Hawker and a pair of oviposting Common Darter.

Black Darter Confirmed


Bob B., Darryl S., Nick R. and Graham B. visited the Mill pond on 11 Sept. and saw the Black Darter again, with further photos taken by Bob (above). My visit today (12 Sept) couldn't find it - it must have heard I was coming. Steve Cham has confirmed what we all believe, that it is an wandering Black Darter. But where doid it come from?

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Is this a Black Darter??


Doug Goddard has sent me these two images that show a "Black" darter seen at Abington Meadow pond near Weston Mill. Is it a Black Darter (the first for Northants), a very very mature Ruddy Darter or a melanistic Darter.?? I have never seen one like this before. If it is an aged adult, I would also expect the wings to show signs of age too.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Migrant Hawkers



We have recently returned from our family Holiday in South Devon, where we saw Gold-ringed Dragonflies, without really looking for them. My first local trip was to Ditchford on 27 August. Here there were 50+ Migrant Hawkers, many at territory allowing me to practice my in-flight photography techniques. These are two of my favourites.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Stanwick Lakes




Common Blue Damselflies were busy fighting for what few females were available, although there were few males around to be honest. The above photos show a single male in flight and a group of males hovering around a submerged female. Also, in amongst the Common Blues was a single Small Red-eye, a first for Stanwick Lakes, a few Black-tailed Skimmer, Common Darter and a single male Emperor.

Saturday, 1 August 2009




Warmer conditions on Friday lead to some activity at Yardley Chase, mainly Emerald Damselflues, Ruddy Darter and Brown Hawker. I managed to capture a Common Darter in flight, Ruddy Darter mating and an oviposting Brown Hawker.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

What's going on here?

I filmed this female Broad Bodied Chaser from the underside and noticed that there seems to be a definite 'split' in the body - anyone noticed this before? ..and what is this called etc etc.... video

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Darters at Ditchford

A curious Common Darter


Male Ruddy Darter with the blood-red body.

We are now in the cross-over time between the summer species and the first appearence of the autumn species. The number of Common Blue Damselflies at Ditchford have plummeted from a peak of 500+ to ~100. Emperors are declining and Brown Hawker are ascending. We saw many oviposting Brown Hawker which is typical for this time of year. A few Migrant Hawker exuviae were found including one make with damaged wings. A single Ruddy Darter and a few Common Darter were also around.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Pitsford Reservoir


At last, some sunshine so I popped to Pisford at lunchtime in search of Ruddy Darter and Emerald Damselflies. Also present, Four-spotted Chaser, Brown Hawker, Southrn Hawker, Azure, Blue-tail and Common Blue Damsels. Both Ruddy and Emeralds were in-cop, so shown in the photos above.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Lesser Emperor Sighting at Pitsford

I have received a thorough descrition of the sightng of Lesser Emperor at Pitsford, and have added it to this year's total.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

New Sightings

11 July - Chris Emary reported this year's first Migrant Hawker at Greens Norton.

4 July - Doug Goddard forwarded a note from a northants birding site that a Lesser Emperor was sighted at Pitsford Reservoir. This remains unconfirmed at the moment. I have contacted the source who may be able to send more info.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Fermyn Woods Country Park

Darryl Sutcliffe visited Fermyn Woods CP to see the Purple Emperor butterfly, fortunately he also sent in records of the following:

At the Reedy Pond:
2 male Emperor, one defending territory, one female Emperor ovipositing.
3 Four-spotted Chaser, one on territory.
Ruddy Darter – 3+
Azure damselfly – 50+, with at least 10 pairs ovipositing.
Blue tailed damselfly -10+
Common blue damselfly - 5+
Emerald damselfly – 1 male

At the Big Pit Pond, with the dragonfly sculpture:
Four-spotted Chaser - one on territory.
Red-eyed damselfly – one male
Azure damselfly – 20+
Blue-tailed damselfly – 10+

At the Great-crested Newt Pond:
Brown Hawker – 2 male
Southern Hawker – 1 male, 1 female ovipositing when not disturbed by FSC.
Four spotted chaser – 3 males, 1 female ovipositing.
Ruddy Darter – 2+
Azure damselfly – 200+, with at least 50 pairs ovipositing.
Blue tailed damselfly -10+
Common blue damselfly - 5+
Emerald damselfly – 6 male

This is one of my favourote sites in Northants, as the ponds are small and accessible and it is great for the kids.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Emperors at the Red-veined Darter Pond




I returned to the Red-veined Darter pond, after a week of high activity there that saw up to 6 males and oviposting recorded at least twice. While the temperature was still hovering around 24 degrees it was quite windy. I only saw 2 males R-v Darters and neither hung around to be photographed. Instead I watched a male Emperor at territory occassionally hovering into the wind and managed the above photos. He saw and grabbed a female and I also caught them in-cop. Also seen was an oviposting Broad-bodied Chaser and many Common Darter. I walked through the grasslands in the hope of finding some roosting R-v Darters and promptly disturbed a male Scarce Chaser. On returning home, I picked up an e-mail from Mark Piper saying that he and Nick Roberts had also seen one on the Nene in this area. Could it have been the same one??? This is the furthest west on the Nene that they have been seen, Last year, Darryl Sutcliffe recorded on at Billing Mill, and Upton is quite a way further west from there.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Small Red-eyes at Higham Ferrers

Black-tailed Skimmer

Following Mark's sighting, I went to Higham Ferrers pits and saw several Small Red-eyes including many pairs in-cop already. They must be at least 1 week old. Also, many Black-tailed Skimmer, Brown Hawker and Emperors.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Mark Piper has reported the first Small Red-eyed Damselflies at ponds near Ravensthorpe Reservoir.

Monday, 29 June 2009

More Red-veined Darter Activity


Mark P. revisited the site on Sun 28 June and a number of dragonfly enthusiasts went there today. Jim Dinkley & Bob Bullock reported seeing an oviposting pair, which is really exciting news. This species has a 2-3 month larval time and adults can be expected to emerge in September. Jeff Blincow took the above photo.

Going, Going, Gone





After the excitement of the Red-veined Darters, I went hunting for them at Wilson's Pits, which shares many characteristics of the Northampton site. I didn't see any, so instead concentrated on the many oviposting Common Blues. Little was flying, perhaps because of the high temperatutres, but the Damsels were as busy as ever. I watched this pair oviposting, when the female began to submerge. Once completely under water, the male unhooked and flew off. He didn't go far though and as she emerged, he grabbed her again and pulled her out of the water. She survived of course.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Red-veined Darters in Northampton





Nick Roberts phoned me this afternoon to report that he and Mark Piper had seen 6 Red-veined Darter at a newish pond near road works just outside Northampton. These are normally of Meditteranean origin and are regular migrants to the UK. Once I'd got directions, I sped (not exceeding 70mph, I hasten to add) off hoping I wasn't too late. When I got to the site, it took several minutes before I saw the first one and then all six appeared. Their territories were quite large - much larger than the Black-tailed Skimmer they shared the pond with. There were many clashes and even one between two R-v Darters. The males all perched on the bare mud around the pond where I crouched down on my stomach to take the photos above. No sign of any Lesser Emperors that normally seem to accompany R-v Darters though. Thanks for the record Nick & Mark!!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Beautiful Demoiselle Hunting on the River Cherwell





I took Wednesday pm off work and drove to see the Beautiful Demoiselle on the River Cherwell around Chipping Warden and Edgcote. This is a well known area for this species, but one I haven't visited before. After walking and driving to several sites, including some previously un-recorded sites, I saw many individuals including pairs in-cop and oviposting. One thing I noted was how red/brown the female is compared with the Banded Demoiselle which remains green throughout its life. Interestingly, the White-legged Damselfly appears to be expanding here and they can be seen side-by-side with the Beautiful and Banded Demoiselle here. The photos above show males at territory and an oviposting female.

Monday, 22 June 2009

One hour at Ditchford this lunchtime

The single male Black-tailed Skimmer

Immature Common Darter
I went to Ditchford to count Black-tailed Skimmer as they are declining here due to the rapid colonisation of marginal vegetation - I only saw one see photo above. I also caught sight of a couple of emerging Common Darter, the first this year. Above is my favourite photo, and one I have been trying to get for a long time - a pair of Four-spotted Chaser incop inflight. This only lasts for 1-2 seconds so a quick shutter finger is needed. It is quite crop as I wasn't that close.