Saturday, 6 November 2010

Common Darters still around

November 6th, 11 degrees and I still manged to find three Common Darters at Ditchford this afternoon. It was a lovely autumnal day with good low sunlight warming up the trees and logs around the lake. These males were perched soaking up the sun and one even caught a fly to eat. The latest date for Darters in Northants is 29th November, so there are still a few weeks to go and these males still look in good condition, so as long as there is a food source they may survive a little longer.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Southern Hawkers and Common Darters at Fermyn Woods

We took a walk around Fermyn Woods CP on a beautiful sunny autumnal afternoon. It was around 12 degrees, but nice and crisp. Around the three min ponds, we saw 6 Southern Hawker, including an oviposting female and a number of Common Darter. Not bad for mid October.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Early October Sightings

As we get more autumnal, our dragonflies are on the decline, however there are still some to be seen when the sun comes out:

4th Oct - Darryl Sutcliffe reports a late season Southern Hawker at Brixworth Country Park.
7th Oct - Migrant Hawkers and Common Darter on the River Ise at Burton Latimer.
10th Oct - A Common Blue Damselfly was seen at Billing Mill.
11th Oct - Darryl reports 6+ Common Darter, 4+ Migrant Hawker & a Southern Hawker at Brackmills Industrial Estate, Northampton.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Late Sepember Update

Still plenty of dragons flying, with Migrants, Common Darter and Ruddy Darter along with Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies at Wilsons Pits on Wednesday 21 Sept. I also disturbed a teneral Darter that flew into the trees. I was hoping it was a Red-veined Darter as around now is the expected emergence time. I took a grab shot from quite a distance, but it was a Common Darter. Still, this is quite a late emergence although given the predictions of cold weather coming, its future may not be too bright.

Darryl visited Brackmills Industrial estate in Northampton and saw the following: 7 Migrants, including two males by the fishing pond, and at least two females hunting in the glades; 3+ Common Darter.

Friday, 17 September 2010

14 degrees C and four species flying at Ditchford

The weather really is changing and this lunchtime it was only 14 degrees at Dtichford, with some sun. Still, four species were flying in these cool temperatures: Migrant Hawker, Brown Hawker, Common Darter and Common Blue Damselfly. I suspect that this year won't be noteworthy for late sightings, although Anglia News weather said temperatures are set to reach 22 degrees next week!

Yesterday (16th), Doug Goddard and Bob Bullock saw an Emerald Damselfly. This is a good late date, despite the cooling weather.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Thrapston Lakes

Walking the Mother-in-Law's dog around the lake at Thrapston, we saw 100+ Migrant Hawker, buzzing around the open areas by the lake and between the lake and the river. Quite an impressive sight. Also around were a few Common Darter, Brown Hawker, Southern Hawker and several Common Blue Damselflies.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Migrant Hawkers & Common Darters

Back from holiday in Turkey where we had 39 degrees C every day. I didn't go dragonfly hunting because it was too hot, but did manage to see plenty of Red-veined Darters (typical isn't it, you go 1800 miles and see a species that appeared in Northants last year!), and a new one for me - a Small Skimmer.

Anyway, back to Northants. Ditchford was buzzing with Migrant Hawker, with almost 100 males, females and mating pairs flying around. Not as many Common Darter as I was expecting though. Still some Brown Hawker, Common Blues and a few Red-eyes.

I managed a few in flight shots, shown above, including a sequence of a male cleaning ist legs to remove some fluff collected while he was hunting through the reeds.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Emerald Damselflies

With all the excitement about Southern Emerald Damselflies, I thought I would look at some of our local normal Emerald Damselflies. Despite the cloudy conditions, we found several oviposting pairs. Interestingly, they were egg laying in spike rush stems quite some distance from the water, presumably to allow the stems to die back over winter and provide some protection until the eggs hatch in the spring.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Migrant Hawkers emerging

At Ditchford, on a hot but windy afternoon my son located our first Migrant Hawker exuviae along with several Emperors. Flying were a few Emperors, Brown Hawkers with many females oviposting in the muddy banks, and the usual Damselflies including an Emerald, the first sighting here in over 7 years. I have always wondered why I have never seen Emeralds here.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Small Red-eyes at Wicksteed Park and Abdingdon Meadow

I discovered a walk from Weetabix, up the River Ise to the nature trail at Wicksteed Park. In the scorching heat on Friday I went to have a look. The fishing pond had many Red-eyes, several Small Red-eyes including oviposting pairs, Fourspotted Chaser, Brown Hawker, Emperor, Common Blue, Blue-tail and Black-tailed Skimmer. The main lake by the train track also had ovipostoing Small Red-eyes. These are new sites for this species.
Doug Goddard reports Small Red-eyes at Abingdon Meadow, along with Emperors, Brown Hawker, Four-spots and Black-tailed Skimmer.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Small Red-eyed Damselfies at Higham Ferrers Pits

This lunchtime, the weather cleared from what was a dull morning with spots of rain (rain - what's that I hear you ask?). By 1230hrs, it was bright sunshine and 25 degrees. There were many Small Red-eyes visible from the fishing stands with several pairs in cop and ovipsoting. There were also many Red-eyes, Common Blues, Blue-tails, Four-spotted Chaser, Brown Hawker and Emperors, but it was the Small Red-eyes that attracted my attention. I came heer last week ans saw none.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

A day at Yardley Chase

With the rest of the family occupied, I took Alex to the Chase for days dragonfly hunting. There was a lot of activity, mainly oviposting Emperors and Four-spotted Chaser. Only a couple of Downys remained and none stuck around to be photographed. The highlight was seeing several Ruddy Darter and Emerald Damselflies. The Azure Damselflies took exception to the oviposting Emperors, by continuously hasselung them. This is a well known phenomena, which hasn't been fully explained yet. From the observations I made I have a theory which I will include in a future edition of Dragonfly News.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Scarce Chasers and Common Darter at Stanwick Lakes

This morning, I co-hosted a Dragonfly & Butterfly walk at Stanwick Lakes with Doug Goddard. We had a good number of attendees and managed to show them several species of Butterfly as well as many dragonflies. Around the ponds near the ranger's office we saw many Common Blue, Red-eyed and Blue-tailed Damseflies including >20 pairs of the latter mating. We also found several exuviae which we discussed with the group. Four-spotted Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmer were also buzzing around the ponds. Moving on to the River Nene, we added many male and female Banded Demoiselle to our list, and at one spot on the river, a male Hairy Dragonfly was hawking low down among the reeds looking for a female and a solitary Emperor went passed, not to return. The highlight of the day was at the end of the trip, when we walked to the footbridge over the river. Unfortunately, the bridge was closed after some unruly behaviour, so we could not walk across, but wading through the grass towards the water's edge, we spotted a number of Scarce Chaser over the water, and Doug found one in a convenient position to photograph (see above). This is the first record at Stanwick Lakes, after several years of searching, and a fitting end to a good (if not hot) walk.
Prior to the trip, Doug found the first Common Darter seen this year.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Scarce Chasers at Waddenhoe

Returning from Cheltenham, I stopped off at Waddenhoe as this is my chosen site for the BDS Monitoring scheme. I am monitoring Scarce Chaser numbers over several years to see if there are any population changes. Today, I counted 37 Scarce Chaser between the Mill and the footbridge, which only covers one bank of the river. This implies there were >60 territorial males in total on both banks. Several pairs were in-cop, as shown in my photos above. I also managed to capture a male hovering.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Wilson's Pits

A good hot day, ideal for dragonfly activity. At Wilson's Pits there were high numbers oviposting Common Blues, Red-eyes and Black-tailed Skimmer. The Red-eye above found himself a nice territory, only to repeatedly be hassled by jealous Common Blues.

Yardley Chase MOD Section

The MOD held an open day at the Yardley Chase training section. I wasn't able to go, but Doug, Bob and Jeff attended. All reported seeing Downy Emerald and a Beautiful Demoislle. Doug sent on this photo. This is the furthest east for this species so far. How long will it be before thy reach the River Ise, where there is plenty of suitable breeding habitat?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

River Nene at Thrapston

We took a walk along the Nene at Thrapston. It was quite windy, but nice and sunny and the dragons were still around. We saw several Scarce Chaser, including the one above showing mating scars. Also large numbers of Banded Demoiselle and still a few Large Red Damselflies.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Brown Hawkers and Scarce Chaser

On a windy day, I came across my first emerging Brown Hawker at Ditchford. One emergee had damaged wings and another emerged right into a spider's nest and was sucked dry by the time I found it. Also several Black-tailed Skimmer (always good to see here as they are declining somewhat), Hairys and the usual Damselflies.

Mark Piper and Nick Roberts report seeing a Scarce Chaser on the River Nene at Harpole Mill. This is the furthest west on the Nene that Scarce Chaser have been recorded. There was a sighting 2.5km east of here last year, so I am left wondering if there may be a small colony nearby. It's certainly a fair way to fly from the usual sites near Thrapston.

Southern Hawkers

Bob Bullock sent in this year's first record of Southern Hawker, seen on 6 June.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Scarce Chasers at the old National Dragonfly Museum site

I took a walk along the footpath by the Nene from the Old Mill to the weir. This is the site of the former National Dragonfly Biomuseum, until around 2003 when Ruary and the team moved out. At this time, Scarce Chaser were not known in the County and certainly not here. Today, we counted in excess of 100 maturing males clashing over the water between the Old Mill and the Weir. Also, many Hairy Dragonlfly and the usual damselflies.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Four-spotted Chaser in flight

There were a few Four-spotted Chaser buzzing around Ditchford this lunchtime, and I managed this shot before my camera buffer ran out (I must invest in that new £3500 Canon 1D Mk IV!). Still, it shows the power of this insect in flight, and is a shot I am very pleased with. Also seen were 1000+ damselflies (all usual types), many Hairy Dragonflies and several Emperor exuviae.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Broad-bodied Chasers at Tywell Hills & Dales

The Whitestone ponds at Tywell Hills & Dales reserve are temporary ponds that frequently dry out in summer - they are essentially clay-filled holes that collect rain water. Every year though, they seem to be home to breeding Broad-bodied Chaser. I popped there this lunchtime and was lucky enough to see a male at territory capture and mate with a passing female. She went on to ovipost into a clump of what looks like hornwort. My photos aren't great as my camera couldn't keep up with the speed of her movement. I usually shoot in RAW, but my camera buffers-out after 15 shots, so I had to change to jpg to get 99 continuous shots and capture some of the action.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Scarce Chasers maturing

The high winds today made dragonfly activity fairly low, so we went geocaching around the Achurch / Waddenhoe area (there are two caches around this here). We walked from Waddenhoe to Achurch and along to Lilford. Between Achurch and Lilford, there is a sunny ride betwen the trees, and there we found 50-100 Scarce Chaser enjoying the sunshine. The trees shielded the path from the wind and it was definately a sun trip. Most of the Chasers were orange and a few of the males were showing signs of blue pruinescence.

First Emperor of the Year at Summer Leys

Doug Goddard reporst seeing this year's first Emperor, a recent emergent sheltering from today's high winds. Doug also recorded this Reed Bunting with a beak full of Damselflies to feed young.