Saturday, 24 June 2017

Small Red-eyed Damselflies appear

James Underwood reports a small number of Small Red-eyed Damselflies at a pond in Weldon, near Corby (21 June). This secies is usually the last to appear in the County, in mid to late July, however occasionally it throws a wobbly and shows in June. Whether these are migrants or locally bred is not known but when they do appear in June it is always at known sites.

Elsewhere, Southern Hawkers are emerging with adults seen at Yardley Chase, Harry's Park Wood, Bedford Purleus and Summer Leys. Emerald Damselflies are in low numbers, which again is early for June with July being more typical.

White-legged Damselflies are in good numbers now, with mating and egg-laying on the River Ise an Gretton Weir (James Underwood).

Scarce Chaser, River Nene at Oundle

Broad-bodied Chaser, Finedon Pocket Park

Oviposiing Azure Damselflies, Finedon Pocket Park

Emerald Damselfly, Finedon Pocket Park

Female White-legged Damselfly, River Ise at Wellingborough

Mating White-legged Damselflies, River Ise, Finedon

Female Banded Demoiselle, Stanwick Lakes

Large Red Damselfly, Yardley Chase


Thursday, 15 June 2017

18 Species down, 5 to go

I can hardly believe we are not quite in summer, yet we have only 5 species to go to complete the County list of 23. I know this is always the case at this time of year, but it still surprises me! The three new species added since my last update are: Ruddy Darter, Variable Damselfly and Brown Hawker.

Stanwick Lakes is showing a good number of species now, with plenty of Black-tailed Skimmers and Scarce Chasers now showing. You have to go to the Nene at the back of the reserve from the lock to the footbridge to see the Chasers, but the Skimmers are viewable on the gravel paths around the main ponds by the visitor centre. Hairy Dragonflies are also showing here. During an evening walk, I lucked upon an immature Ruddy Darter in amongst several roosting Common Blue Damselflies, which came as a pleasant surprise as thye are not common here.

James Underwood has been busy, and has recorded our first sighting of Scarce Chasers egg-laying on the Nene near Oundle Marina. In 10 years to studying them in Northants, I have yet to see one egg laying. James also recorded many White-legged Damselflies on the Welland in the Gretton area.

John Windust saw the first Brown Hawker of the year at Irthlingborough lakes.

I have recently visited Yardley Chase to photograph the Downy Emeralds with some success, see photos below.

There have been many reports of an major influx of Red-veined Darters into the UK, with sightings spread out across the UK, including our neighbour Warwickshire. There are only a couple of suitable sites in Northants for this species, and the flooded quarry at Old Sulehay is one of them. Alas, despite many Black-tailed Skimmers, I didn't see any Darters there. I moved onto Maxey Pits for my annual view of the Variable Damselflies, and counted around 20 males and 1 female. In previous years there has been access to the water where I have seen egg laying, however now this area is overgrown, so the best views are in the grasses along the footpath.

Immature Ruddy Darter, Stanwick Lakes

Immature female Blue-tailed Damselfly, violacea colour form, Irthlingborough Lakes

Tandem pair of Blue-tailed Damselflies, female of the andromorph colour form, Irthlingborough Lakes

Male Downy Emerald, Yardley Chase

Male Downy Emerald, Yardley Chase

Male Downy Emerald, Yardley Chase

Broad-bodied Chaser, Twywell Hills & Dales

Four-spotted Chaser, Yardley Chase

Black-tailed Skimmer, Old Sulehay quarry

Female Variable Damselfly, Maxey Pits

Male Variable Damselfly, Maxey Pits

Monday, 5 June 2017

Common Darters emerging early

Two species have been added in the last week, with Black-tailed Skimmers seen at Stonepit Quarry by Doug Goddard and Bainton Nature Reserve (John Showers). 

Darryl Sutcliffe reports a good early emergence of Common Darters at Carey Fields in Northampton. This is an early, but not unprecedented date for what is essentially a late summer / autumn species. The earliest date we have is 31 May, but that was a single adult and not the synchronised emergence that Darryl saw.

On 3 June, I held a dragonfly training course for the Wildlife Trust BCN Wildside project at Ditchford Lakes.  Along with the usual species, we found 50+ Emperor exuviae and saw several adults both at territory and in the meadows. There was no sign of any Scarce Chasers on the river following John Showers' report of an adult here recently, so this must have a a transient adult, possibly from Irthlingborough. Several Hairy Dragonflies were present, with males at territory and in the meadows.

Elsewhere, numbers of White-legged Damselflies are building on the Welland and River Ise.

Common Darter at Carey Fields

Black-tailed Skimmer at Stonepit Quarry

Male Scarce Chaser, River Nene Wadenhoe

Female White-legged Damselfly, River Ise, Burton Latimer

Emperor, Ditchford Lakes

Mating Blue-tailed Damselflies, Ditchford

Male Hairy Dragonfly, Ditchford 

Female Hairy Dragonfly, Ditchford

3-winged Male Hairy Dragonfly, Ditchford

Friday, 2 June 2017

Beautiful Demoiselles

Our population of Beautiful Demoiselles seem to be doing well so far this year, with many adults seen along the Brampton Valley Way at Hanging Houghton, Brampton fisheries (via James Underwood) and on streams in the Creaton / Cottesbrooke area (Richard Hollingum) as well as at Boughton Grange (Pete Burditt). Today (2 June), I found 12, with a 50:50  mix of males and females near Hanging Houghton, including a teneral (before first flight) female. I hunted for exuviae but couldn't find any. Still, a teneral is proof of breeding.


Teneral female

Male with loss if wing colouration

Immature male, note the reddish wings, yet to turn blue



Sunday, 28 May 2017

May Bank Holiday

I have received lots of records this week, mainly through the Northants Dragonflies facebook group, as well as adding my own.

Darryl Sutcliffe reported this year's first Beautiful Demoiselle on the Brampton Valley Nene, with records of adults around the Brampton Holt railway station. Based on this I visited Hanging Houghton and found 4 (3 females and a male) along the footpath heading north towards the A508. Pete Burditt report adults in the Boughton Grange area.

John Showers, Northants Diptera Recorder, visited Ditchford Lakes and saw the year's first Emperor and more excitingly an immature Scarce Chaser in the meadow. I hope this signifies that they have reached this far downstream. 

Bucknell Woods was visited by David James, who saw Four-spotted Chaser, Broad-bodied Chaser and an Emperor.

The River Nene is still producing Scarce Chasers. I visited Lilford from 0700-0830hrs on Friday and recorded a couple emerging along with Banded Demoiselle. This is really a magical time to visit the river, especially on a sunny morning. We took a boat trip north from Oundle Marina to Ashton and counted over 30 Scarce Chasers, 5 mating pairs and around 20 Hairy Dragonflies along with the usual demoiselles and damselflies.

James Underwood visited Gretton weir and recorded the first White-legged Damselflies, along with Red-eyes, Banded Demoiselles, Large Reds.

Immature male Beautiful Demoiselle, Brampton Valley Way near Hanging Houghton

Emerging Banded Demoiselle, River Nene Lilford

Emerging Banded Demoiselle, River Nene, Lilford

Dew-laden female Banded Demoiselle River Nene Lilford

Emerging ma;e Scarce Chaser, River Nene, Lilford

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Scarce Chasers on the Nene

Mid May is probably my favourite time in the dragonfly season, even though it has barely begun. At this time, we get to see mass emergence of the so-called spring species - Four-spotted Chaser, Downy Emeralds and Scarce Chasers. On Saturday 18th I went to the Nene at Wadenhoe hoping to catch an emergence sequence of a Scarce Chaser. I was a little late, but I did witness 15 adults freshly emerged and taking their maiden flights. Many Banded Demoiselle were present too.

Darryl Sutcliffe reports seeing Scarce Chasers emerging at Thorpe Waterville, and a up upstream on the Nene in our new boat revealled 3 freshly emerged adults in the Oundle area. We also saw three Hairy Dragonflies and many Banded Demoiselles too on our 2 hour trip.

Elsewhere, Glyn Pacan reports Hairy Dragonflies on the gullet at Twywell Hills and Dales, and James Underwood reports Four-spotted Chasers emerging at Barnwell Country Park and Four-spotted Chasers, Large Red, Red-eyed and Blue-tailed Damselflies at Priors Hall and Weldon.

One of my targets for this year is to capture a full emergence sequence for a dragonfly and a damselfly. I have already posted the damselfly, so here is my sequence of a Four-spotted Chaser emerging.

Male Scarce Chaser

Female Scarce Chaser