Archive for the 'Dragonflies' Category

12th June 2012, Tuesday

Compound eyes

I came across a female Emperor dragonfly this morning dormant, cold, wet and laying in the grass. It’s not often you get a chance to get close to these aerial masters, it was fasinating to see the way the water droplets on the eyes had magnified the surface showing a small proportion of the thousands of ommatidia.

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3rd June 2012, Sunday

More dragonflies

At Castle Water since last monday Emperor and Black-tailed Skimmer have been emerging. Adults of both species are on the wing during sunny periods and are easily found patrolling the margins at the northern end of Castle Water. The viewpoint is probably the best place to see Downy Emerald, while the ditch on the approach to the hide is a good place to watch Hairy Dragonfly and Four-spotted Chaser.

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Emperor Read the rest of this entry »

29th May 2012, Tuesday

Dragons & damsels at Iden Moat

Or to use its proper name, Mote Place, the remains of a spectacular moated medieval manor house west of Iden – wonderfully tranquil and full of wildlife. Today I counted c.30 White-legged Damselflies at their main local colony, almost all whitish immatures. 50+ Azures, mostly mature males, were on land but there were 200+ pairs on the water with the females egg-laying. Two Blue-tailed, 2 Variable and 4 Red-eyed plus 2 pairs in cop completed the damselflies, and dragons were 3 Hairy Hawkers, 3 Downy Emeralds and 2 Four-spotted Chasers. Additional species seen on the walk were 5 Large Red Damselflies and 5 Broad-bodied Chasers.

28th May 2012, Monday

At last

There has been a big emergence of Hairy Dragonfly and Four-spotted Chaser at Castle Water in the ditch north of the hide, today I collected 64 Hairy Dragonfly and 86 Four-spotted Chaser exuviae. Teneral adults were easily found in the long grass nearby and it was a real pleasure to see so many dragonflies take to the air. Sadly there has to be some losers. I found several of each species that had failed to complete full wing expansion and strangely a Four-spotted Chaser larva that had completely failed to start the emergence process.

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Female Hairy Dragonfly with one wing that has failed to expand. Read the rest of this entry »

25th May 2012, Friday

Castle Water

The warmer weather this week has encouraged a lot more dragon and damselfly activity around the margins and scrubby areas at CastleWater. Highlights at noon included three Downy Emerald patrolling the willows along the footpath north of the viewpoint, several Four-spotted Chaser could be found around the margins at the northern end of the main pit, small numbers of Large Red Damselfly were at the pond at the entrance to the hide. Hairy Dragonfly, Red-eyed and Variable Damselfly could be found around the bramble scrub near the viewpoint.

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Four-spotted Chaser

19th May 2012, Saturday

Dragons and damsels

Still not exactly warm, but out of the wind in the sheltered scrubby areas near the viewpoint a good selection of damselflies had gathered. At least 50+ Variable Damselfly, 100+ Blue-tailed  Damselfly, 20+ Red-eyed Damselfy and 30+ Azure Damselfly were enjoying the warmth. Hairy Dragonfly and Downy Emerald were also patrolling the nearby bramble bushes. As the season progresses I keep expecting to find a bigger emergence of Hairy Dragonfly at Castle Water, so far I have only collected twenty exuvia and would expect a lot more by now if recent years are anything to go by. A selection of picture from this morning are below.

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One of two male Hairy Dragonfly at stage 2 of emergence near the viewpoint this morning.

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14th May 2012, Monday

More on the downy’s

A search for more signs of Downy Emerald emergence today revealed 8 exuviae and one adult at the point of taking its maiden flight. Trying to find all the exuvia can be a challenge, especially when its only a few spindley legs grasping a sprouting common reed stem showing, as shown in the third picture below.

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On the verge of taking maiden flight Read the rest of this entry »

12th May 2012, Saturday

Downy Emerald

I can’t believe that it’s been five years since I first found Downy Emerald as a new breeding species of dragonfly at Castle Water. Last year I did not find any exuvia or see any adults on the wing, so thought it was just a  short term thing as the species had been expanding its range in the south east and had just used Castle Water as a stepping stone to find other woodland habitats. While at the viewpoint this morning I checked the margins to see if the sunny weather had encouraged any dragonflies to emerge, and was delighted to find 3 Downy Emerald in the process of emerging and 5 exuviae. Several Hairy Dragonfly and small numbers of Red-eyed Damselfly were also emerging in the margins.

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Downy Emerald at stage four of emergence Read the rest of this entry »

7th May 2012, Monday

Castle Water

At last some signs of Hairy Dragonfly emergence at Castle Water, in recent years the first few exuviae and adults have been found from the 24th April onwards. This morning I found a male and female that had successfully reached stage four of emergence and hopefully if the temperature rises a little today should manage to take a maiden flight. The highlight though was watching the first few steps of a larva as it left the water and crawled up its chosen emergence support. This part of the process always fascinates me as the aquatic life is left behind and an aerial life beckons, if only for a brief time. 

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1st May 2012, Tuesday

Castle Water

A couple more species of damselfly this morning in the margins near the viewpoint, Blue-tailed and Variable. Also of interest an Orange-tip, 2 Small Copper and the hoverfly Rhingia campestris.

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Male Variable Damselfly