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.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Emerald Damselflies at Pitsford Nature Reserve

Exactly to the day from last year, Emerald Damselflies made their first appearance at Holcot Pond, Pitsford. All the ones I saw were female, and they would close their wings after a few seconds from landing - normally this species rest with their wings partly open.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Northamptonshire Dragonfly Group field trip to Yardley Chase 13 June

Fifteen people joined me on this field trip to see the Downy Emerald. Most attendees had never see this species before, so it was a very exciting time. We visited 3 ponds and saw ~50 adults including 1 pair mating. The other usual species were present too, including the first Southern Hawker of the year. I borrowed Steve Cham's 300mm f4 lens to capture these in-flight photos, and the picturie of Steve photographing us. The weather was excellent and so were the dragonflies.
Sunday, 14th June 2009

River Tove - BDS Monitoring site. Numbers of both Beautiful and Banded Demoiselles again present. Also noted were Azure,Blue Tailed, Large Red, White Legged and Red Eyed Damselfly.
There were numbers of Banded Demoiselle males holding territory and occassional "fights" between males were noted.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Saturday 12th June

Visited Weston Mill and the Clifford Hill Gravel Pit area. One Hairy Hawker male noted on the canal arm of the River Nene. a singel Brown Hawker also seen. On the River Nene A single male Emperor, A Four Spotted Chaser and a single male Beatiful Demoiselle. Some 3000 plus Blue tailed damselfly, number in tandem. Good numbers of Red Eyed with also some in tandem. Common Blue, Azure and Bandeds. Two Black Tailed Skimmers in one of the small inlets actually in the main pit area.

White-legged Damselflies on the Ise and Scarce Chaser on the Nene

Male Scarce Chaser showing mating scares and tattered wings.

Mature female Scarce Chaser with drab, overmature colouration
Male White-legged Damselfly

Female White-legged Damselfly

At lunchtime Friday 12 June, there were many White-legged Damselflies on the Ise between Weetabix and Wicksteed Park. Numbers appear to be down on previous years, perhpas because of the poor summers over the last two years.
After work, I went to the Nene at Aldwincle and saw about 6 Scarce Chaser, both male and female. They all looked rather old and tattered, with the females having lost their bright orange colour.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The poor weather last weekend saw no dragonflies/damselflies at Greens Norton on Saturday. A short clearance in the weather on Sunday saw me at the Rive Tove for the continuance of the British Dragonfly Monitoring scheme. The river was slightly up and water levels were just above the lily pads preventing Red Eyed Damselflies from appearing. Numbers of both Beautiful and Banded Demoiselles were both down, although one pair of Banded were found in tandem. Azure 5; Blue Tailed 2; White Legged Damselfly 16 and only One Large Red Damselfly were noted.
Monday 8th at Greens Norton Pocket Park produced 47 Azures the majority of which were well away from the pond in long grass and nettles. One Beautiful Demoiselle and one blue tailed were also noted.
Tuesday 9th saw a visit to the Oxford Canal. The weather was overcast, cool and odd sunny intervals which did not last long. Blue Tailed, White Legged, a couple of Banded Demoiselle females and a single male Beautiful Demoiselle were noted on the canal.
The main reason for the visit was to check whether the small Beautiful Demoiselle colony was still present. A check of the area at 10:30 produced nothing. However at 11.15 the same site was checked again 6 (2 male and 4 female) were found at the roost site with 4 Banded Demoiselle ( 2 male and 2 female). Some of the surrounding area had had some clearance work undertaken which has opened up the canal/river area.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Rubbish weather, but Dragons still flying!

Rubbish weather again today - apparently we are in the middle of the "European Monsoon"! So, suffering from Dragonfly withdrawl symptoms, I headed off to Wilson's Pits this lunchtime. Weather was rainy, with a temperature ~17 degrees. There was a surprising amount of activity, including my first flying Emperors:

Emperor ~5 all males often clashing over territory
Red-eyed Damselfly 100+ inc oviposting pairs and exuviae
Common Blue Damselfly - 100+ inc oviposting and exuviae
Blue-tailed Damselfly 100+ inc many mating pairs
Azure Damselfly - ~20 (probably more) hidden amoung the grasses
Hairy Dragonfly ~5 searching through the reedmace looking for oviposting females and occassionally clashing with Emperors.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Maturing Scarce Chaser

I called in at the Nene, Kinewell Lake on my home tonight and saw a mature Scarce Chaser in exactly the same spot as last week (see earlier blog post) - I wonder if they are territorial about their roosts as well?. Last week, he was only partially blue. Over the intervening seven days, the full blue "pruinescence" has developed.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

More Downy in-flight photos

Here are my latest batch of photos. I am learning a lot about their behaviour and this helps greatly in getting a good shot.