Dragonflies and Damselflies

Site Visit Diary

2000 Season

August 2000

I haven't really done very much concentrated observing during August, but here is a summary of the month.

Common Darter, Blue-tailed and Azure Damselfly, and Brown and Southern Hawker were recorded from field ponds around Hanslope in early August.

On 12th August a visit to the Teardrop Lakes turned up 10 species. I found Blue-tailed, Red-eyed, Common Blue and White-legged Damselflies, all seen either flying in tandem or ovipositing. Also a few Banded Demoiselles and Common and Ruddy Darter, Brown and Southern Hawker and a few male Black-tailed Skimmers. This seems to have been a bad year locally for the latter species.

On 14th August I took a trip to Howe Park Wood to see what was around. Blue-tailed, Azure, Common Blue and Large Red Damselflies were seen, as was Brown Hawker, Southern Hawker, and Common and Ruddy Darter. I was particularly pleased with the Southern Hawker as I had told a friend accompanying me that this species regularly visited a particular glade and, lo and behold, when we got there we found an excellent specimen of a male.

In the last couple of weeks of August Migrant Hawkers have become quite common in most sites visited. Damselflies seem to be just about over now, it's really the time for Hawkers and Darters. Yesterday (27th), a visit to Stony Stratford Conservation Area turned up a few Brown Hawkers and Common Darters and a fair number of Migrant Hawkers, despite showery weather.

Howe Park Wood
3 July 2000

This year is turning out to be like last year - no summer! I was amazed to find that I haven't made any entry here for nearly a month.

This lunchtime was calm, and warm and humid, though little sun. The ponds at Howe Park Wood had good numbers of Azure Damselflies together with Blue-tailed and a few male Large Reds. 4-spotted Chasers were abundant, a pair were seen mating and egg-laying. There were several Emperors, both male and females, again with egg-laying. I found a couple of newly emerged darters, probably Common Darter, and a lone, female, White-legged Damselfly. Howe Park is not the expected habitat for this species, although there is a small woodland edge stream which has very little flow. Single male Black-tailed Skimmer and Broad-bodied Chaser brought the species count up to 9 for the day.

R. Thames, Goring
11 Jun 2000

Morning visit to the viaduct to look for emerging Club-tailed Dragonflies. Although I left home in glorious sunshine, it was overcast by the time I got to Goring. I searched the wall by the river but could only see one exuvia - and no sign of hoards of nymphs climbing the walls! I waited for about 30 minutes and was relieved to see a nymph below the water line (directly beneath me) emerging like the Creature from the Black Lagoon! I watched it climb up to the mossy area near the top of the wall (about a meter in 10 minutes). It then took a hold and wriggled for a while. After about 30 minutes I could see the split appear on the back of the thorax. It only took a few minutes for the head, thorax, legs and front half of the abdomen to emerge. The beast then took another rest for about half an hour before gripping the moss and pulling its abdomen fully out of the cast exuvia. Another rest, then steady pumping as the wings expanded slowly to their full size. The wings were not yet held flat, but more like a damselfly holds its wings. More rest as the insect expelled excess fluid from its abdomen, then it opened its wings and climbed to the top of the wall. It eventually flew away 2 hours and 20 minutes after leaving the water.

I took lots of photos which I will post on the site later.

Stony Stratford Conservation Area
10 Jun 2000

A lovely sunny day tempted me out to this BBOWT (Bucks, Berks, Oxon Wildlife Trust) site near the River Great Ouse. There were hundreds of Azure Damselflies, and many Red-eyed and Blue-tailed damselflies near the pond. Also a fair number of Large Reds. Several 4-spotted Chasers were flying and basking on reed stems. I saw two Hairy Dragonflies (males) patrolling in the reeds, and one resting on bushes a few yards away from the water. I hope I've got some decent photos! A few Banded Dems were present on the pond (all males) and both sexes were present in small numbers on the river.
In rough grass about 50 meters from the pond I found a female Broad-bodied Chaser and a teneral male White-legged Damselfly. Surprisingly, I couldn't find any White-legged on the River.

Howe Park Wood
15 May 2000

My first visit of the year to my favourite site. Sunny, light wind and warm (23deg). I found lots of Large Reds including a tandem pair together with several Blue-tailed and Azures on the top pond. There was a female L. depressa in pristine condition on the middle pond and a couple of 4-spotted Chasers. One of these, a female, was still trying to pump up her wings, but one forewing and one hindwing were so badly distorted that I doubt she would succeed. I collected 4 exuviae of L. quad (identified positively back at home) all found on rushes at the water's edge about 10-20 cm above the water surface.

Blue Lagoon
13 May 2000

A lovely sunny Saturday at last! I decided to visit Blue Lagoon to try to see Hairy Dragonfly. A friend had reported seeing it there last weekend. The weather was clear and calm but when I arrived (about 10:30) there were few Odonata about. The only ones seen in the morning were Large Red Damselflies and Blue-tailed Damselflies.
Around lunchtime I found one fairly newly emerged Hairy Dragonfly deep in the rushes at the edges of a marshy pond - a male. I succeeded in getting a single photo before it flew off.
C. puella f. annulatumAs I was returning to the car, I found a few teneral Common Blue Damsels and some Azure Damselflies. I netted one of the Azures and was for a while confused about its identification. It was a female but rather than the "thistle" mark on the 2nd segment it had a clear "mercury" mark. For a while, I though I had found Variable Damselfly in MK but closer inspection of the pronotum showed that it was Azure. I had never seen this colour variant before, but found that it is commented on in both Brooks and in McGeeney.

Emberton Park
06 May 2000

My first damselflies of the year were seen today at Emberton Park. A lovely sunny morning induced me to go and see whether any species were flying. I have received many reports from elsewhere in the UK (all of Large Red Damselfly) but not seen any activity in Milton Keynes on the past few weekends. Hardly surprising given the very wet weather we have had!
Today I saw a single female Large Red Damselfly and a female 'blue' damselfly. Unfortunately, I failed to catch it so am not sure whether it was an Azure or a Common Blue - both species are common at Emberton. I tend to favour Azure.
Also seen were Brimstone, Orange Tip, Peacock, Tortoiseshell, Green-veined White and Large White butterflies. I heard my first Cuckoo of the year too!

This page was last updated on 28 August 2000

Reports from the first half of 1997

Reports from the second half of 1997

Reports from the first half of 1998

Reports from the second half of 1998

Reports from 1999

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