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.