Monday, 25 July 2016

A visit to Lyveden New Bield

About 8 years ago, I conducted a survey of the dragonflies at Lyveden New Bield for English Heritage. They wanted to know what species were present and how to manage the ornamental ponds. Since then, they have dredged the ponds to remove silt. Judy & Terry Wood are frequent visitors and have recorded Scarce Chasers there. As I had some spare time on Saturday, I thought I'd make a return visit to see for myself what the current status is. I was pleased to record 12 species, which puts it near the top of the best sites in the County - there were 25 Emperors, including 8 ovipositing, Brown Hawkers, Common & Ruddy Darters, Red-eyed Damselflies, Banded Demoiselles, Common Blue and Azure Damselflies, Blue-tailed Damselflies, Emerald Damselflies, Four-spotted Chasers. The most significant of all was a very strong population of Small Red-eyed Damselflies, including many ovipositing pairs. There were also many recently fledged Swallows flying around the fields. Well worth a visit.

Tony Vials reports the usual species at Summer Leys, including emerging Migrant Hawkers on Saturday. I found 3 exuviae at Ditchford last Wednesday, but no adults.

I popped into Barnwell Country Park on Sunday, on the way home from Ounde Marina (they are opposite each other after all!). The lake on the left of the car park was buzzing with Emperors, Four-spots, and Black-tailed Skimmers. Rudy & Common Darters were also present along with the usual Damsellfies including Small Red-eyes. The river sections hosted many Banded Demoiselles. One Common Blue had very strange abdominal markings that I thought at first were damage, but when I photographed it from above appeared to be symmetrical. This species is known for aberrant markings, but this is the first one I have seen.

Female Brown Hawker, Ditchford

Ovipositing Brown Hawker, Ditchford

Ovipositing Brown Hawker, Ditchford

Four-spotted Chaser, Lyveden New Bield

Ovipositing Emperor, Lyveden New Bield

Ovipositing Small Red-eyed Damselflies, Lyveden New Bield

Ovipositing Small Red-eyed Damselflies, Lyveden New Bield

Mating pair of Small Red-eyed Damselflies, Lyveden New Bield

Mating pair of Small Red-eyed Damselflies with on-lookers, Lyveden New Bield

Ruddy Darter, Barnwell CP

Common Blue Damselfly with unusual markings, Barnswell CP

Black-tailed Skimmer, Barnwell CP

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Quiet Period

I always consider mid July to mid August as the quiet period in the dragonfly season. Not because there are fewer species around, but because those species that are present are seen in smaller numbers. Common Blues are significantly down, as are Four-spotted Chasers. Even Banded Demoiselles are less numerous along gthe Nene. The main hawkers present - Emperor and Brown are extremely territorial so are only seen in ones or may be twos. Things do pick up when Common Darters become common and Migrant Hawkers appear in their hundreds in late August.

Sywell Reservoir is showing a good variety of the usual species at the moment, as are Ditchford, Titchmarsh and Summer Leys. Mark Piper reports good numbers of Emerald Damselflies and Ruddy Darters are Ravensthorpe ponds, and Darryl Sutcliffe has found more Beautiful Demoiselles on the lower stretches of the Brampton Valley Way. 

Four-spotted Chaser

Common Blue Damselflies (female of the blue form)

Ovipositing Emperor

Ruddy Darter

Common Darter

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Beautiful Demoiselles on the Brampton Valley Way

The upper reaches of the Brampton Valley Way are fast flowing with gravelly bottoms, which is ideal habitat for the Beautiful Demoiselle. The bridge over the river at Hanging Houghton is a good spot to see them, as is any fairly open section of the river. Many areas can be shaded or overgrown, so you may have to look hard to find them. In some areas they co-exist with Banded Demoiselles, especially where the water pools. Today, I found several of both species along with Brown Hawker and Blue-tailed Damselfly. The Bandeds did not tolerate the Beautifuls at all, and they were far more aggressive with them than with fellow Bandeds.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Decline of the spring species

Early July heralds the transition between the spring species, typified by Hairy Dragonfly, Four-spotted Chaser, Downy Emerald and the Large Red Damselfly, and the advance of the summer/autumn species. Numbers of Four-spots have declined rapidly, but can still be found as can Large Red Damselflies. However, no Hairys have been seen for a while now. and this is the first year I can recall that I haven't seen any Downy Emeralds in flight at Yardley Chase, which is mostly down to the poor weather. 

To compensate, Emperors and Brown Hawkers are now seen in good numbers, and the Darters are starting to appear, mostly Ruddy Darters at the moment, along with Emerald Damselflies

Female Emerald Damselfly

Female Emerald Damselfly

Male Ruddy Darter

Male Ruddy Darter

Blue-tailed Damselfly attempting to mate with a Large Red

Male Ruddy Darter

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Hawkers and Darters

I saw my first Brown Hawker on Sunday, along the River Nene at Ringstead. This is about two weeks later than usual for me, although they probably emerged on schedule. The river was full of Scarce Chasers, and with Darryl Sutcliffe's sightings along the Nene at Thorpe Waterville, must make several hundred seen over this stretch of the river - quite amazing for early July when this species are on the decline. At Wadenoe today, there were good numbers too including a couple of mating pairs, Brown Hawkers and Emperors including an ovipositing female.

During a lunchtime walk along the River Ise at Burton Latimer, I saw my first Common Darter, which just leaves Emerald Damselflies and Migrant Hawkers to go!

Mating Scarce Chasers at Wadenhoe