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.