Tuesday, 29 August 2017

More Willow Emeralds

I hope readers of this blog wont get bored with Willow Emerald posts, but this is an exciting time and I am sure to post many more before their season finishes at the end of October. It hasn't been since 2006 that a new dragonfly species has colonised Northants, although this is the third colonisation event since my tenure as County recorder began (Small Red-eyed Damselfly in 2004, Scarce Chaser in 2006 and Willow Emerald Damselfly in 2016). It gives a great opportunity to study a new species as well as watch as it spreads. So far, no Willows have been seen outside of Finedon Pocket Park, but I can't imagine they are not elsewhere.

Today, I was lucky enough to encounter this male on a dead branch beneath the middle Willow tree, with an absolutely perfectly clean background. The top picture clearly shows the three diagnostic features of the male: 1) pale wing spots (called pterostigma); 2) lack of pale blue coloration to the thorax and abdomen; 3) the claspers at the end of his sbdomen.

Friday, 25 August 2017

More Willow Emerald activity

Of course I had to return to Finedon today, especially as the weather was so good. I met up with Darryl who had already spotted the first male. Over 2.5 hours we found one mating pair and an ovipositing pair, so 5 adults in total. Looks like the next month or so should bring more activity.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Willow Emerald Damselflies

At last!!!!

I was about to give up hope of finding the Finedon Willow Emeralds, when I spotted this male perching among the branches. My first shots were back lit, so I moved around to get a better image, but still had to crop substantially to get something that shows what it is - not great but a satisfactory record shot after many hours of searching.

I think I only saw 1 male but did see some fresh ovipositing scars in the new Willow growth so there must be at least two adults present (out of 160 or so scars I found!). Probably brother and sister!

If you visit Finedon Pocket Park, look among the Willows that are growing out of the water. The Emeralds are very hard to spot, so look for movement within the trees. I only ever saw this one (and the ones last year) on the bear branches - whether the leaves disguise them too much I don't know.

The key feature to look for is the light wing spots (pterostigma) which are distinctly different from the dark ones on the regular Emeralds. Also, the males lack the light blue colouration to the thorax and end of abdomen that are clear on regular Emeralds.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

August update

I haven't posted for about 1 month now because I have spent every lunchtime at Finedon looking for the Willow Emeralds. Since they emerged in the east from the end of June, I have been expecting them at Finedon and making near daily visits to search for them but without any success. Last year they were seen in Bedfordshire and adults were recorded at the same sites over the weekend (12-13 Aug), so I am expecting them to appear at Finedon any day now. Still, there are plenty of other species to see.

I saw 30+ Migrant Hawkers at Finedon and they are appearing elsewhere including back gardens all over the county. Southern Hawkers are now showing well at Fermyn Woods, and Small Red-eyed Damselflies are cropping up at Weldon, Deene Park, Irthlingborough, Lyvedon New Bield and Barnwell Country Park. I even found a male and female at Finedon, which are new to this site. Common Darters are now around in good numbers, but Emperors and Brown hawkers are still present, although in declining numbers.

I'll keep looking for the Willow Emeralds and will of course post updates.

Immature male Migrant Hawker

Common Darter

Ovipositing ;pair of Common Darters



Mating pair of Emerald Damselflies

Ovipositing Emperor