Sunday, 23 August 2015

Update and a visit to Whixall Moss, Staffs

I returned from holiday and back to work with no dragonflies seen for over 2 weeks. How did I survive? My first Migrant Hawkers of the year were in my back garden, during a family party, where I saw four at once, mixed males and females. At Ditchford, I struggled to find any territorial males in the overcast conditions, but this one (photo below) did hang around for a few minutes when the sun came out. Common Darters, Brown Hawkers and Common Blue Damselflies were also present.

At Irthlingborough, a few remaining Small Red-eyed Damselflies sat on the algae, along with Brown Hawkers ovipositing into the muddy banks, Common Darters and Emerald Damselflies. I found a drowned Brown Hawker, which I fished out with my monopod but it was dead on arrival, only to then see another alive which I also rescued. I guessed they had a tussell and ended up in the water. 

I took my daughter and a friend to the VFestival in Shropshire and took the opportunity to visit Whixall Moss, in Staffs only about 45minutes further north, looking for Common Hawker and Black Darters. I have not seen Common Hawker before, but a male Black Darter did appear in Northants in 2009. There were many Darters along the ferns on the trials and at the ponds I saw plenty of both species, including mating and ovipositing along with lots of Emerald Damselflies, a Brown Hawker, Common Darter and a single Common Blue Damselfly. The male Common Hawkers didn't let me get any inflight shots, so I concentrated on the ovipositing females. The male Black Darters were on the mature side and didn't show the beautiful colouration that I was hoping for, being mostly all black, however it is the females that really shone with their fantastic golden yellow and black colours. One unfortunate female had been grasped by a rare Raft Spider. The site is hard to find, but I may go again in June next year to see the White-faced Darters.

Ovipositing Brown Hawker, Irthlingborough

Drowned Brown Hawker

Surviving Brown Hawker

Migrant Hawker, Ditchford

Mating Black Darters

Ovipositing Common Hawker

Black Darter eaten by Raft Spider

Female Black Darter

Male Black Darter

Female Black Darter