Monday, 17 July 2017

Ovipositing Brown Hawkers

Now is a great time to see Brown Hawkers ovipositing. They favour submerged logs and branches, and will occasionally use wet mud. Eggs are inserted into wet or moist areas where it is easier to get the ovipositor into the substrate. 

Scarce Chasers are still present on the Nene, where James Underwood reports them from near Oundle. Be quick though as their season is coming to a close. At Barnwell Country Park, James watched the large colony of Small Red-eyed Damselflies on Mill Lake and also saw Brown Hawkers, Emperors and Black-tailed Skimmers

Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters are starting to appear and I saw 5 Migrants at Finedon today, hunting around the open glades along the footpath towards the pond. Gravel pits such as Summer Leys and Dicthford should start to show as well.

Common Blue Damselfly

Broad-bodied Chaser, Old Sulehay

Ruddy Darter

Brown Hawker ovipositing

Common Darter

Ovipositng Emperor

Mating pair of Emerald Damselflies

Ovipositing Brown Hawker

Friday, 7 July 2017

Ovipositing Broad-bodied Chasers and others

I am making regular visits to Finedon now as we approach the Willow Emerald emergence date, although predicting the date is not easy. I did see a couple of Emeralds with light pterostigma (a characteristic of Willows) which did get me quite excited, although I didn't get a clear enough view of them in the trees and anyway, immature Emeralds all have light pterostigma. There were plenty of "normal" Emeralds around with several pairs ovipositing into plants growing around the pond margins.

Several Broad-bodied Chasers were ovipositing, and I managed to merge a sequence to show how the female progresses to lay her eggs. While this was happening, a Four-spotted Chaser buzzed her and was promptly seen off by her attendant male. A couple of Emperors were also egg laying as were many Azures.

At Hanging Houghton, there were only a few Beautiful Demoiselles around, but the two females present were egg-laying, while a pair of Bandeds and a Beautifuls flitted above.

James Underwood reports seeing Brown Hawkers and Southern Hawkers hunting the rides in Brookfield Plantation. Red-eyed and Large Red Damselflies were still on view at a flooded quarry near Gretton while both species of Darter near to Harringworth Lodge Lake. 

Male Emerald Damselfly

Ovipositing Emperor

Merged sequence of a Broad-bodied Chaser ovipositing

Male Four-spotted Chaser harassing the Broad-bodied Chaser

Female Beautiful Demoiselle

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Small Red-eyed Damselflies

I went to the pond at the Weldon Woodland Park, near Corby to see the Small Red-eyes today and was amazed at how many there were. I estimated 150+, with many perching on the hornwort very close to the bank. Even more amazing was to watch several emerge from within the hornwort and take their maiden flight. This is a known characteristic of this species but seldom seen. 

Scarce Chasers are still present on the Nene from Wadenhoe, Oundle and Stanwick Lakes, although I didn't see any by the lock at Irthlingborough.   

Next week's weather looks better for Dragonfly watching so I hope for some more interesting sightings!.

Male Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Male Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Male Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Male Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Emerging Small Red-eyed Damselfly (note the exuviae on the stick)

Emerging Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Banded Demoiselle, River Nene at Wadenoe

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