Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Scarce Chasers emerging in good numbers

A walk along the Nene at Waddenhoe revealed a good number of Scarce Chasers, both in the meadow taking their first flights and in the marginal vegetation having just emerged. Having just flown for the first time, Scarce Chasers tend to land in grasses at ground level which makes getting a decent photo quite hard, and of course they are quite skittish being vulnerable to predation until their wings fully harden. Male and female Banded Demoiselles were also present, although numbers were lower than I expected. Like last year, I also found a single Broad-bodied Chaser along the footpath. I've no idea where it came from, but clearly there is a breeding pond not too far away, so I have some more searching to do.

John Showers reports seeing both male and female Beautiful Demoiselles at Farthinghoe Nature Reserve on 22 May. 

Male Banded Demoiselle

Male Banded Demoiselle

Female Broad-bodied Chaser

Recently emerged Scarce Chaser

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Four-spots, Scarce Chasers and Downys

I received an email from Roland Bogush, via Flickr, with a request to confirm an ID of a dragonfly seen at Fermyn Woods Country Park. The said dragonfly was a recently emerged Scarce Chaser. Roland couldn't find it's exuvia, so couldn't confirm if it had emerged there or had flown from elsewhere. The nearest river is Harper's Brook, but I am not sure this stretch of the river is entirely suitable. If the Chaser did emerge from Fermyn Woods, it will be the first breeding in a non-riverine habitat that I have come across since this species first appeared in the county. This prompted me to visit my usual favourite Scarce Chaser site at Lilford. It was hard work, but I found 3 emerged adults, alongside several Banded Demoiselle. Numbers of Scarce Chaser should build nicely over the next few weeks. I'll try Waddenhoe next.

I dashed from Lilford to Yardley Chase in the hope of finding Downy Emeralds. My timing was great, because I found 9 around one pond well synchronised. In amoung them were a good number of Four-spotted Chasers, but because of my Scarce Chaser hunt I arrived too late and most had already flown. Azures and Large Reds were present in good numbers.

Lastly, finishing off a good day, I popped to Kinewell Lake in Ringstead to check on the Heronry. With nothing much happening, I searched around and was amazed to find hundreds of Common Blue Damselfly exuvia and several belonging to Red-eyed Damselflies in the fishing bay I was occupying. Now multiply that up and numbers must have been in the thousands around the whole lake. I walked alog the river at Willy Wat marina and here found hundreds on Common Blues, Red-eyes and Banded Demoiselle in the grasses by the River Nene. No Scarce Chasers though.

Female Downy Emerald

Female Downy Emerald

Male Scarce Chaser
Four-spotted Chaser

Saturday, 14 May 2016

More species appear

After last week's hot weekend, things started to move along at quite a pace. On Monday, I visited Kinewell Lake in Ringstead to catch up on the Herons breeding in the Heronry island. I was surprised to find over 100 Common Blue Damselflies taking their maiden flights. This lake is not a great site for dragonflies as there are few areas with good marginal vegetation, but obviously hosts good numbers of Blues.

My car was in for a service on Thursday, which turned out to be a great day as the sun was warm and bright, a big change from the previous few days. I wasn't able to go far from work, so took a walk up the River Ise and found several Large Red Damselflies by the river. Judy & Terry Wood had more luck around Polebrook and Barnwell Country Park, recording Banded Demoiselles on the Nene, Common Blues, Azure, Large Reds, Red-eyes and a Hairy. At Polebook Airfield they saw a Broad-bodied Chaser.

Thursday marked a monumental change at Weetabix, with a new dress code that allows me to wear shorts all the time (I work in the offices not production, so my hairy legs won't contaminate your cereal) although I do visit the factories occasionally and therefore need work trousers just in case. Anyway, not only do I feel cooler, but shorts will help me on my lunchtime trips as I can now kneel to get shots and IDs without fear of going back with dirty knees. On Friday, I was able to visit Ditchford where I saw Common Blues, a few Azures, Blue-tails and Red-eyes as well as a few more Hairy exuviae.

Immature female Common Blue Damselfly

Immature female Blue-tailed Damselfly of the form Violacea

Immature Male Blue-tailed Damselfly

Immature male Red-eyed Damselfly

Broad-bodied Chaser (Judy & Terry Wood)

Male Banded Demoiselle (Judy & Terry Wood)

Sunday, 8 May 2016

More Hairys and Large Reds

I love the experience of walking along the side of a pond and witnessing 100's of tenerals taking their maiden flights. I was lucky enough to experience this on Saturday with many Large Reds emerging. I also encountered an emerging Hairys and a teneral female at Ditchford, but no sign of my predicted emergence of Common Blues, Red-eyes and Blue-tails, which I am sure will appear early next week.

Female Hairy Dragonfly

Large Red Damselfly

Emerging Hairy Dragonfly

Friday, 6 May 2016

Hairys and Blue-tailed Damselflies

I took a trip to Ditchford Lakes and Meadows this lunchtime with warm but cloudy conditions. Searching through the emergent plants I spotted a damselfly exuvia. It was too far away to collect so I zoomed in on it with my camera for a few photos to try for an ID. The caudal lamellae showed that it was a Blue-tailed Damselfly, the adult of which was no where to be found. I found no more damselfly exuvia, but did find two emerging Hairy Dragonflies and two more exuviae. Interestingly, all were female. I watched both take their maiden flights, and managed to capture one before flying and the other as it landed on a tree not far from the water. This weekend looks promising with strong sunshine and high temps, so I expect Common Blues, Red-eyes and Azures to appear.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

More Large Reds

With The Wood's sighting in their garden and another report of Large Reds at the pond at Fineshades, I went out to find my own Large Reds. I hunted through several ponds with no luck and was just about to give up when I spotted an emergent very low down in some reeds. I promptly found 3 more to give a total of 4. The fourth was taking its maiden flight while the other three were perched alongside their exuviae. One of the emergent had fallen out of its exuvia, and when I rescued it I saw bobbles of fluid on its wings, which suggests the veins had been damaged. I am not sure if he will survive.

Male with damaged wings