Saturday, 19 November 2011

Mid November Activity

Walking over a bridge over the River Ise yesterday, I disturbed a pair of Common Darter in cop. This is a good late date to find a mating pair, so I set off to Ditchford this afternoon with the sun nice and bright and temps hivering around the 13 degrees C mark. At this time of year, any remaining Darters hunt our reflective surfaces to bask on and collect as much sun energy as possible. A common site is to see them on tree stumps and fence posts. Well, I managed to find three this way in amongst a lot flies also absorbing the sun's warmth. If this warm weather continues we may even see some Darters into December. The photos show a male and female (top).

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Recent Ovipositing Action

The Common Darters and Migrant Hawkers are busy ovipositing at the moment, and when a group of Darters get together it is quite mad! Here are pictures of a Migrant Hawker and a close-up shouing the ovipositor inserted into the plant stem. Capturing tandem Darters ovipositing is very hard as they move quite jerkily and quickly, so the images here are the result of over 500 shots.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Migrant Hawkers Ovipositing

Another trip to Finedon Pocket Park found this female Migrant Hawker ovipositing into dead plant stems some 1.5m from the pond margin. This is a protective measure to keep the eggs safe until they hatch in the spring, when water levels have risen.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Migrant Hawker Frenzy

As we enter late summer, early atumun, Migrant Hawkers start to appear in large numbers. At Ditchford this lunchtime I saw about 30 including ovipositing females and mating pairs. I managed to capture these males hovering searching for females. Also seen were a few Common Blue Damselflies, a single Red-eyed Damselfly, lots of Common Darter and a few Brown Hawker.

Monday, 29 August 2011

More Common Darters

Finedon packet park is becoming on of my favourite places as I have recorded 13 species there so far, including a couple of Migrant Hawkers. There were many Common & Ruddy Darter buzzing around and I managed to captures these few males in-flight.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Small Red-eyed Damselflies, at last

Last year, Small Red-eyed Damselflies were recorded from the end of June, so I have been checking a few of their usual sites since that time this year. I have not seen them until today, which is around their usual time. I wonder if the adults seen in June last year were a new influx from the continent, or the poor June/July weather this year delayed their emergence? Anyway, at Highham Ferrers Pocket Park and Gravel Pits, several hundred were about, mainly some distance from the bank making photography difficult. Several pairs were ovipositing and in tandem, like this one above

Monday, 1 August 2011

Common Darters

While it is still early in their season, there are plenty of Common Darters about. I saw this lot at Finedon Pocket Park, where there were also a pair ovipositing. Also there, Ruddy Darter, Azure, Blue-tailed and Emerald Damselflies and Brown Hawker.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Emperors at old Sulehay

Saturday pm was perfect dragonfly weather, so I visted Old Sulehay to find Emerald Damselflies as they are missing from this area, and a colony would fill a gap in the Northants atlas. Alas, no Emeralds, but there were 12 Emperors, including ovipositing females, Black-tailed Skimmer, Southern Hawker, Common Darter, Azure, Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies. I managed a couple of decent in flight shots of the Emperors.

Monday, 11 July 2011

At last - an Emperor in flight

I managed to catch thios male Emperor in flight at Wilson's Pits this lunchtime. In total, Igot about 6 decent pictures. Fou males were present and one ovipositing female. Also present, a couple of Black-tailed Skimmer, loads of Common Blue Damselflies and Red-eyed Damselflies.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

On the River Nene at Waddenhoe

I popped down to Waddenhoe this afternoon to see how the Scarce Chasers were doing. While the weather was sunny about 12 adults appeared including 3 mating pairs. Good numbers considering the time in their season. I was surprised by the lack of Banded Demoiselle - I only saw about 10 in total, including this beautiful female (photo above). Normally, several hundred would be flitting about the water. Emperors, Brown Hawker, Red-eyed Damselflies, Blue-tailed and Common Blues were also present, again in reduced numbers.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Emperors at Finedon Pocket Park

Doug Goddard sent me a few records from a pond at Finedon Pocket Park, which actually is very close to where I work, so I have been visiting weekly over the last couple of weeks. Today, in the sunshine I saw two male Emperors fighting over territory and this ovipositing female. A single, old male Four-spotted Chaser occassionally joined in and many Azures oviposited in the algae. In the reeds I found a good number of Southern Hawker exuviae and I disturbed 5 recently emerged Ruddy Darter. Unfortunaltely, they flew into the trees before I could get a decent shot.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Irthlingborough Pits Bioblitz

Have just returned from recording dragonflies at the Wildlife Trusts Bioblitz at Irchester Pits. In the first ditch we found a number of emerging Common Darter (the first records thisn year), along with Four-spotted Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmer larvae. Around the gravel pits, we recorded Brown Hawker, Emperor, (including many of both hawking amoung the grasses), Black-tailed Skimmer, Blue-tailed, Red-eyed, Common Blue and Azure Damselflies and Banded Demoiselle on the river.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

End of June Update

The end of June brings with it hot weather, and at last a chance to get to see some dragons. I visited Yardley Chase and saw: Downy Emerald, Emperor, Four-spotted Chaser, Large Red, Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies and my first Emerald Damselflies. Several Southern Hawker were emerging too (Doug Goddard spotted the first on 9 May). I managed to capture shots of Downy and Four-spots in-flight.

Chris Emary has reported seeing the first Migrant Hawker at Salcey Forest.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

BDS Field Trip - Variable Damselfly Hunting

For this year's BDS Field Trip, we went hunting for Variable Damselfly. This is a species that has sporadic records, mostly in the north of the County, so we set off to see if we could find any colonies in the Peterborough area. Our first stop was at Maxey Gravel Pits where Variables were recorded here in 2007 although I haven't heard of any records since then. About 20 Variable Damselflies were flitting about the lilly pads on a large floating mass of lillies. A single pair in tandem landed on the pads and began to oviposit, frustratingly out of reach of my camera. In the air above, Emperor, Hairy and many Four-spotted Chaser buzzed around as the sun burts through the clouds. Also see were Common Blue, Blue-tail, Azure Damselfly, an ovipoiting pair of Large Reds and many Red-eyes. Maxey pits are very unspectacular and could be any other gravel pit complex, so why does it host Variables Damselfies while others do not? As we pondered this enigma, we took a detour along Maxey Cut, walking for many km along this linear water course. Here we saw more Variables, Azures, Emperors, Four-spotted Chaser, hundreds of Common Blues & Blue-tails and several Banded Demoiselle - fewer than expected considering the habitat. A great day out added 3 new 1km squares for Variable Damselfy and a total of 9 species seen.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Scarce Chaser at Waddenhoe

Waddenhoe is probably my favourite site for Scare Chaser as it affords great views of territorial males along the Nene from the Mill to the footbridge. Despite windy conditions, good numbers of males were present, along with Hairy Dragonfly, Red-eyed Damselflies and fewer than expected numbers of Banded Demoiselle. I also managed to capture a male Banded Demoiselle coming intot land on his territorial perch.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Brown Hawker Emerging

Emerging Brown Hawker

Male Red-eyed Damselfly

Found this emerging Brown Hawker this lunchtime, some two weks earlier than normal. The good (and long forgotten) hot weather in April is still having an impact. Also seen: Emperor, Hairy Dragonfly, Red-eyed Damselfly, Common Blue, hundreds of Blue-tails, and For-spotted Chaser.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Recent Sightings

Doug Goddard reports Black-tailed Skimmer at Summer Leys. He also met someone photographing dragonflies there who had a picture of a Scarce Chaser taken near the feeding station. This is a great sighting, so if anyone is planning on going to the Leys, please keep an eye out on the River and surroundings for any more.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Four-sotted Chasers in flight

I've been putting the AF modes on my 7D to the test and have captured these in flight shots of some male Four-spotted Chasers. The males fly very quickly but will hover around their territory, and if you watch what they do and pre-focus, you can get some good shots.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Downy Emerald first flight "The Movie"

My new Canon 7D has a movie mode and I have been keen to capture a dragonfly's first flight with it. At Yardley Chase this afternoon, I found this recent emergent and filmed it as it warmed its wings and took its maiden flight. If you listen carefully you can here my exclamation at the end!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Recent Sightings from the west

Chris Emary reports the year's first White-legged Damselfies and Beautiful Demoiselles on the River Tove at Towcester. Also seen: Banded Demoiselle, Azure Damselfly, Red-eyed Damselflu and Large Red Damselfly.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Activity at Billing Gravel Pits

Jim Dunkley reports seeing Hairy Dragonlfies emerging and mating at Billing Gravel Pits along with Banded demoiselle emerging on the Nene (see Jim's pictures above).

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Possible Vagrant Emperor at Brackmills Industrial Estate

Darryl visited Brackmills Estate on 9 May and described an unusual hawker dragonfly that did not show the usual jizz of a Hairy Dragonfly. Darryl says "it was predominantly brown, and longer and thinner than a typical Hairy. It had brownish wings, which resembled a dragonfly's wings when they have aged over a long period of time, i.e. towards the end of its life. The behaviour was not typical of a Hairy as it was hawking at least two reed lengths above the water and over the trees, the male Hairys were patrolling low down amongst the reeds at the time." Darryl did not see the characteristic cyan-blue saddle so there is no positive ID. I have not accepted it as a record and am posting it here for others to keep an eye out especially as there has been a confirmed sighting in neighbouring Leicestershire (does this mean it must have flown through Northants to get there and that we can clim a record by default?). Please keep an eye out and look for the cyan-blue saddle on the first abdominal segments.

Emperor at Bucknell Woods, Towcester

Doug Goddard (Northants butterfly recorder) has seen this first Emperor of the year at Bucknell Woods near Towcester. This species normally emerges at the end of May/early June so is keeping up this year's schedule of 10-14 day advance on emergence.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Scarce Chasers emerging on the Nene

At last, some rain (although not much yet)! I took a walk along the Nene at Waddenhoe Mill and Lilford in search of Scarce Chaser this afternoon after the rain had cleared. At Waddenhoe I found 5 exuvia and one emergent female with crinkly wings. Also found exuviae of Banded Demoiselle of which there where ~100 adults present and 2 Hairy Dragonfly exuviae. I am always surprised to find Hairy exuvia on the Nene as this species prefers static water sites with plenty of dead plant material. At Lilford, I hoovered up 15 exuvia and found two emeregent adults. The photo above shows a male with right-hand wings stick together. The cool, rainy weather this morning is probably the cause.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Wicksteed Park

Darryl reports seeing the following at the Wicksteed Park Nature Trail fishing lake: Hairy Dragonfly, Azure Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly and Blue-tailed Damselfly. This is a great dragonfly site and a pleasent walk away from the crowds at Wicksteeds.

Large Reds mating

I visited the River Ise near Harrowden this lunchtime. There were many Large Reds around including 4 pairs in tandem and mating. In total around 15 adults were seen. I stalked this pair until they landed in a convenient place for a photo.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Downy Emeralds emerging two weeks early

Large Red

Four-spotted Chaser

Emerging Downy Emerald

I visited Yardley Chase today in the hope of catching some emerging Four-spots or Hairys, and instead found 2 exuviae of Downy Emerald and one adult emerging. Due to the early time I visited (0830hrs), the 2 exuviae must have been from yesterday or earlier, which means that the recorded species total for April is 10 species, a new County Record (2007 = 8 species). This is a good two weeks early for the Downy and a sign of how special this spring has been for our dragonflies. I only hope the year doesn't progress like 2007, with a very wet summer. The Downy larva had climbed the trunk of a small tree overhanging the water. This is classic behaviour for this species, but one that I have not seen before. I now understand why the larva's legs are so long - to grasp around the tree trunk. The emerging adult was in the shade with a bright sunlit background, so I had to use fill-in flash - my new Canon 7D has a wireless flash function that really helped get the shots.

Also seen: Large Red, Blue-tailed, Four-spotted Chaser, Hairy Dragonfly.