Saturday, 30 November 2013

Late Darters

Judy & Terry Wood report several Common Darters still flying at Barnwell Country Park on 27 November. The County record is 29th, and it would be great to beat that with sightings in December. I went out today (30th), but had no luck.

Common Darter, Barnwell Country Park 27/11

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Migrant Hawkers still flying

After the Woods' sightings at Barnwell, I took advantage of the sunny weather Friday and visited Ditchford, where upon I found three Common Darters and a single male Migrant Hawker. This is my first Migrant Hawker in November and it just goes to show that there are always surprises out there. I didn't manage a shot of it as it flew into the trees after I disturbed it from its sunny spot.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Mid November Activity

Judy & Terry Wood report seeing a Migrant Hawker and several Common Darters at Barnwell Country Park on 13 Nov. While Darters are known this late (up to 29 Nov), not many Migrant Hawkers are. I thought last night's frost may have done some damage, but apparently not too much it seems.

Male Common Darter at Barnwell Country Park 13.11

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Early November Update

Doug Goddard and Nigel Muddiman report Common Darters and Migrants Hawkers still flying, around Scaldwell, Pitsford Reservoir on 4th.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Still Dragonflies around (to 20 Oct)

I have received reports of Common Darters from Stanwick Lakes (John Windust) and Southern Hawkers near Litchborough (Darryl Sutcliffe). I saw a pair of Common Darters ovipositing into the River Ise in the last week too. Chris Emary also reports Migrant Hawler at Kings Sutton so there are still three species around - typical for mid October.

On 20th, we visited Fermyn Woods Country Park, and despite the 15 degrees C and completely overcast conditions, there were still a handful of Common Darters showing activity around the Reedy Pond and more interestingly 3 Southern Hawkers including an ovipositing female at the Big Pit Pond. The light was too poor for any photography though.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Early Autumn Dragonflies

Now, I am a firm believer that Autumn starts on 21 September after the Autumn Equinox, and detest the modern dumbing down of this event, where Autumn is often described as starting 1 September simply because it is a convenient date. So, these sets of records are the first from the Autumn 2013 season, starting 22 Sept.

Darryl Sutcliffe reports seeing  2 male Brown Hawkers at Pitsford Reservoir on 22 September 2013, plus Migrant Hawkers, Common Darters at the River Ise Brook in Kettering.

On the same day, Stuart Page reports a single Blue-tailed Damselfly at Ditchford.

Barnwell Country Park was buzzing with activity on 26 Sept, where Terry Wood reports seeing Common Darter, Ruddy Darter, Migrant Hawker, Southern Hawker and Brown Hawker - an good number of species for early Autumn!

At Ditchford, the cooler conditions have reduced numbers, but there are still plenty of Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters around. I was also pleasantly surprised to find a handful of male Common Blue Damselflies. No females, though I am sure there are some around.

Migrant Hawker (with a feather stuck to his wing!)

Common Darter

Common Blue Damselfly

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Mid September update

The poor weather has quietened things down a bit, but I am still receiving reports (up to 16 Sept) of Migrant Hawkers, Southern Hawkers, Ruddy and Common Darters. It looks like the cool, windy & wet conditions have seen-off the last of the Damselflies.

Just time to post a reminder that The Dragonflies of Northamptonshire is now available. Please contact me mark.p.tyrrell (at) for more information.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Southern & Migrant Hawkers

At this time of year, Southern & Migrant Hawkers begin to dominate the skies over their respective habitats. Migrant Hawkers will be seen pretty much anywhere, while Southern Hawkers are more choose, preferring small ponds. There is a strong colony at the Whitestones ponds Twywell Hills & Dales, where I recorded 5 males and an ovipositing female on 28 August. I am desperate to get a good side-on in flight shot of a Southern Hawker but am happy with this head-on shot taken at Twywell. I was also lucky enough to find this male perched up when the clouds passed over the sun.

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker

At Ditchford today (31 August) there were around 100 Migrant Hawkers including several pairs in cop. Great opportunities for in flight shots too.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Small Red-eyed Damselflies and Broad-bodied Chasers

Small Red-eyed Damselflies are now about, with good numbers at their usual sites of Higham Ferrers Pocket Park and Irthlingborough Pits. Males and ovipositing pairs were present on 22 August.

At Twywell, a single male Broad-bodied Chaser was present with very tatty wings. He flitted around the pond, not able to fly too far or too fast - a pale imitation of the males here 3 weeks ago. This is the latest date recorded in Northants so far. Also present were 5 Southern Hawkers, 1 Brown Hawker and several Common and Ruddy Darters as well ovipositing Emerald Damselflies.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Common Darter

Broad-bodied Chaser

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Migrant Hawkers, Common Darters and Chasers

As we enter August, many traditionally spring species are still around. The delayed spring seems to have shifted the flight seasons a bit. I saw Scarce Chaser on the Nene at Wadenhoe today, although it was too windy for any shots. Scarce Chasers do survive into August with Terry Wood recording one around the 4th last year, but this is a personal first for me though.  As were the Broad-bodied Chasers at Twywell on the 1st, including this old pruinescent female ovipositing.

Common Darters are increasing in numbers and the first records of Migrant Hawkers have been received. First of the year goes to Mark Piper with a male at Brampton Wood on 28 July. Other records have been received from Stuart Page on the River Ise and Tony Vials at Summer Leys and Terry Wood near the Nene at Polebrook on 1 August. Still no records of Small Red-eyed Damselflies though.

Pruinescent female Broad-bodied Chaser ovipositing

Male Broad-bodied Chaser - still in good condition

Male Common Darter

Monday, 15 July 2013

Beautiful Demoiselles, Emerald Damselflies and Ruddy Darters

Over the last week or so, both Ruddy Darters and Emerald Damselflies have started to emerge. On 6 July, Bob Bullock saw the first Emerald Damselflies and on 9 July, Doug Goddard found Ruddy Darters emerging at the Whitestones Ponds, Twywell Hills & Dales.

Tony Vials saw a few Hairy Dragonflies at Summer Leys on 13 July, which is the latest date so far in Northants. Presumably, the late start to emergence in Spring has lead to a late end to the season too.

Beautiful Demoiselles are appearing at various locations along the Nene and Brampton Valley Way, with sightings at Kislingbury, Weedon, Brixworth and Hanging Houghton.

At Whitestones Ponds today, I was amazed to see 9 male Broad-bodied Chasers clashing madly over the three small ponds. One pond had 4 males at one point and the competition for the best territorial perch was so intense that they did not settle at all for over 10 mins. The other ponds saw Brown Hawker, Four-spotted Chaser, Azure Damselflies and many Ruddy Darters including two pairs ovipositing.

Beautiful Demoiselle

Ruddy Darter

Ruddy Darter
Ruddy Darter

Broad-bodied Chaser

Emerald Damselfly

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Dragonflies of Northamptonshire - second edition coming in July

I have just completed the manuscript for the second edition of "The Dragonflies of Northamptonhsire" This edition will be available towards the end of July.

Fully illustrated throughout with high quailty colour photographs, this 76 page A4 format book contains information on all of the species of dragonflies and damselflies recorded in Northamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough since 2000. The best sites in the County are described along with species descriptions, county status, distribution maps and flight periods for all of our 23 breeding species and 3 migrants. The print run is limited to 250 copies. Retail price is £14.95 (inc p&p), but for a special pre-publication price please contact me directly at mark.p.tyrrell(at) (Extra special offer for owners of the first edition).

Monday, 1 July 2013

Sightings update to 1 July

Over the last week or two a number of interesting sightings have emerged:

Darryl Sutcliffe has recorded good numbers of Beautiful Demoiselle on the upper reaches of the Brampton Valley Way. Back in 2009, I predicted that they would start to colonise the river here as it has an aspect very similar to their traditional territory on the River Tove near Towcester.

David Warner has recorded Beautiful Demoiselles on the streams at Harlestone Heath for the second year - a good sign that they are establishing colonies there too. There is a direct connection to the Brampton Valley Way! David also recorded a single male at Salcey Forest.

Mark Piper and Nick Roberts recorded Hairy Dragonflies at Collyweston Bridge on the River Welland. This is the first record here.

From my side there have been good numbers of Scarce Chasers at Wadenhoe, Warmington and Fotheringhay (the site of my first County records in 2005). The photos below show a male at territory and after he caught a female - it is the same male in both photos.


At Old Sulehay quarry, I saw my first Black-tailed Skimmer of the year. This species is becoming scarce along the Nene Valley and other sites now offer better habitats. Also present were 3 Broad-bodied Chaser, many Common Blue Damselflies, a single Emperor and my first Brown Hawker (also seen by the Terry & Judy Woods at Castle Ashby).

Travelling outside of our County, I visited Paxton Pits in Cambridgeshire after the exciting news of the discovery that the Norfolk Hawker has established a breeding colony there after sightings over the last few years. This site is so close to us that they may yet find their way here, however I know of no sites in Northants that has water soldier - the plant that is linked to this species. If anyone knows of a site please keep a watch out. Here's my best in flight shot from my visit.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Broad-bodied Chasers at Whitestones Ponds

I have been visiting the Whitestones Ponds at Twywell Hills & Dales quite regularly to try and capture Broad-bodied Chasers. On Wednesday 19 June, the weather was hot and humid and there was good activity around the third muddy pond. Here I saw a territorial male mate with two females, who promptly began ovipositing. They move so fast that getting in flight shots is difficult so I concentrated on the female and managed several good ones including these.   

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Recent sightings to 18 June

Chris Emary reports Hairy Dragonflies at Greens Norton Pocket Park near Towcester, including one ovipositing. This is an amazing record and great for Hairys in the west of the County.

Alison Lowe reports the first Southern Hawkers emerging at Sulby Gardens. I still haven't seen or had any reports of Emperors or Black-tailed Skimmers, perhaps this weekend will show some!

At Whitestone Ponds, Twywell Hills & Dales, I recorded my first Broad-bodied Chasers, when a female buzzed the main pond twice looking for a male, only to get bored and  disappear just before the male arrived. Also present were 5 Hairy Dragonflies including an ovipositing female, many Large Reds and Azure Damelflies and an ovipositing Four-spotted Chaser.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

White-legged Damselflies on the Ise

The Ise near Finedon was showing good numbers of White-legged Damselflies, with 100+ adults in the grasses away from the river margins. I've been worried about the colony here for a few years, but these numbers are an encouraging sign.

After work, I called in to the Nene at Lilford to catch some Scarce Chasers basking in the afternoon sun. I quickly lucked out by spotting a pair of Banded Demoiselles in-cop - not my target species, but a photo I've been waiting 8 years to get. I managed a few that I am happy with. There were about 5 Scarce Chaser about and the same number of Hairy Dragonflies too.

Male White-legged Damselfly

Female White-legged Damselfly
Hairy Dragonfly eating a Mayfly

Mating pair of Banded Demoiselle

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Banded Demoiselles in close-up

I was given a special attachment for my camera - called a Raynox DCR250 - which allows extra close-up shots, and have been keen to try it out. When added to my zoom, I can vary the magnification to suit the image you want. You end up about 10cm from the dragonflies, so today's overcast conditions left the Banded Demoiselles on the Ise quite approachable and I was able to get these shots.



I've always been intrigued by the pseudo-pterostigma on the female's wing. This shot shows that it is simply a pigmentation, probably similar to the blue on the male's wings. But what is its purpose


Monday, 3 June 2013

Beautiful Demoiselles

Chris Emary reports Beautiful Demoiselles appearing on the Tove at Greens Norton and Martyn Adkins reports them on the Cherwell at Woodford Halse.

I went up to Maxey again an watched several pairs of Variable Damselflies ovipositing. The female in this pair seems to be covered in a lot of pollen.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Downy Emeralds and Broad-bodied Chasers

I took a walk around Yardley Chase this morning, with gloomy conditions. The sun finally broke through a gave good temperatures. I collected many Downy Emerald exuviae and found one emerging. Several Four-spotted Chasers were also emerging. On the wing were Azure Damselflies, Large Red Damselflies and a Hairy Dragonfly. Looking through my exuviae collection at home, I realised that one was a Broad-bodied Chaser, so that means all three Chasers are now out. During the walk back, through a woodland ride I spotted a Downy Emerald at rest low down in the trees - not something you se very often.

Emerging Downy Emerald

Resting male Downy Emerald

Emerging Four-spotted Chaser

Friday, 31 May 2013

Scarce Chasers now emerging at Wadenhoe

During last year's poor spring, the Scarce Chasers on the Nene started to emerge around 24 May. This year, with the even worse spring, I saw the first ones today, 1 week late. I did think that by now the dragonflies would have caught up with the weather, but we are still about 1 week behind schedule. I managed to find just two tenerals, so there are still plenty more to come and the predicted good weather this weekend may see a mass emergence. Also present were 100+ Banded Demoiselle (a good increase on the 30 last weekend), a handful of Large Red Damselflies and a single Azure Damselfly.


Close-up of the wings

Male Banded Demoiselle eating a Stonefly

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Two more species seen

I split my recording in two today, visiting the Nene at Wadenhoe looking for emerging Scarce Chasers this morning and Maxey Pits this afternoon looking for Variable Damselflies. The morning was cool and breezy but bright. No Scarce Chaser were around but I did see 20+ Banded Demoiselle and 1 Large Red Damselfly.

At Maxey, with higher temperatures and less wind there were around 30 Variable Damselflies including immatures, mature males and females and a couple of exuviae (new to my collection). Also present were a few immature Azure Damselflies, Blue-tailed Damselflies, Red-eyed Damselflies and Large Red Damselflies.

Large Red Damselfly


Female Banded Demoiselle

Emerging Banded Demoiselle

Female Variable Damselfly

Male Variable Damselfly

Male Variable Damselfly