Dragonflies and Damselflies

Site Visit Diary

The second half of 1998

Great Linford Lakes
8 November 1998

This is a simple, final report for the 1998 outdoor season. Alan Nelson reported seeing two specimens of Common Darter, one an over-mature male, the other an over-mature female, on a sunny afternoon at Great Linford Lakes. I suspect that this will be the last sighting of Odonata in the area this year.

Summerleys Nature Reserve, near Wellingborough
20 September 1998

This was a beautiful, warm, September afternoon. We went to Summerleys mainly to do some bird watching but while there I saw a pair of Southern Hawkers in mating flight and many Migrant Hawkers along the hedgerows. There were also hundreds of Common Darters. Many were basking in the sun on seats and tree trunks. We were approached by another bird watcher who asked whether we had seen the Hobby which had been hunting and catching Dragonflies along the hedges. Unfortunately we didn't see it but we did see a flock of about 19 Little Stint and several Tree Sparrows along with the more usual water birds found at this excellent reserve.

Tattenhoe, Loughton Brook
11 August 1998

I took advantage of the continuing fine weather to visit the Loughton Brook where it flows past the Tattenhoe housing estate, quite close to where I work. This stretch of the brook has been dammed with rocks at intervals producing a string of small ponds. There were very good numbers of both Common and Ruddy Darters on the wing. Brown Hawkers and Emperors were hunting over the open water as were a few Black-tailed Skimmers. Damselflies were represented by Common Blue and Blue-tailed.

Little Linford Wood
9 August 1998

Dog walking plus dragonfly watching. Brown and Migrant Hawker were quite common. A few Ruddy and Common Darters were seen along with a single Southern Hawker. The only Damselfly found was the Blue-tailed.

Emberton Park
8 August 1998

A hot afternoon visit to this country park found Common Blue, Blue-tailed, Red-eyed and White-legged Damselflies. Banded Demoiselles were seen along the river and the Dragonflies were represented by Black-tailed Skimmer, Brown Hawker and Emperor. Eight species in total.

Stoke Bruerne Nature Reserve
8 August 1998

As part of my contribution towards the Northamptonshire survey, I decided to visit this small nature reserve near the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne. The reserve is managed by the county naturalists trust and is the remains from brick pits dug out for the construction of the nearby canal tunnel. The predominant species found was Common Darter which were seen mating and ovipositing. Also found were Ruddy Darter, Brown and Southern Hawker and Emperor Dragonfly. There were a few male Emerald Damselflies and a single female White-legged Damselfly very near the canal.

Caldecotte Lake
7 August 1998

Still fine and warm. How long will it last? I decided to pay a visit to Milton Keynes largest balancing lake at Caldecotte. This is a new site for me to observe but one that I really should include on my regular visit schedule. I saw nine species in total including Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselfly, and Brown Hawker, Black-tailed Skimmer and Emperor Dragonfly. On the adjacent River Ousel I found White-legged Damselfly and many Banded Demoiselles together with both Common and Ruddy Darters.

Howe Park Wood
5 August 1998

The fine weather continues - that's two or three days in a row! A lunchtime visit to the ponds by the car park at Howe Park Wood turned up eight species. Both Common and Ruddy Darters were seen mating and ovipositing. Many Blue-tailed Damselflies were evident as were a few Emerald Damselflies and, surprisingly, only one Common Blue. Emperor Dragonflies and Brown Hawkers were hunting over the ponds and along the woodland edge and I found just one male Black-tailed Skimmer.

I walked into the wood in the hope of finding Southern Hawker at its most favoured site at a crossroads in the rides and was not disappointed. A single male was resting on tall grasses.

Shenley Wood
4 August 1998

At last some fine warm weather has arrived! I took the chance to make a quick visit to the wood during my lunch break. Common Darters were seen on the pond near the wood and in the rides. I also saw a single Brown Hawker and, along the woodland edges, my first Migrant Hawkers of the year, not yet in large swarms.

South Northants Survey
25 July 1998

I was asked to help in a survey of sites in Northamptonshire for a new county Odonata atlas being produced by the Northants Local Group of the BDS. With the very poor summer, this was the first opportunity I have had to make some observations towards this goal. I visited three sites close to my home, but just across the county border.

The first site was Broadwater, a pond near Cosgrove Lock (SP 779420). I found Blue-tailed, Common Blue, White-legged and Red-eyed Damselflies. Dragonflies comprised Common and Ruddy Darters, Four-spotted Chaser and Brown Hawker, which was seen ovipositing in floating wood. A female White-legged Damselfly was also found on the canal bank. I also found two Grass Snakes. I saw the second one before it saw me and was able to take several close-up photos.

The second and third sites were both on the River Tove, north of Castlethorpe and near Cosgrove. The species were similar on both stretches of the river. I saw many Banded Demoiselles together with Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies. The Blue-tailed were much more common near Cosgrove. A few White-legged Damselflies were seen as were a few Common and Ruddy Darters and Brown Hawkers.

Blue Lagoon
20 July 1998

A lunchtime visit to Blue Lagoon on the first warm, sunny day for a couple of weeks turned up only a few individual dragonflies but seven different species. Common Blue Damselflies were seen flying in tandem. The only other damselfly seen was the Blue-tailed. Small numbers of Common Darter, Four-spotted Chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer and Emperor Dragonfly were seen along with a single Brown Hawker.

Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk
10 July 1998

Lyn and I took a long weekend to do some Dragonfly and Bird watching in Norfolk and Suffolk. The weather was OK (considering our poor summer so far) and we saw ten species of Odonata at Strumpshaw.

This site is best known for its Norfolk Hawkers. We were lucky enough to see one or two specimens hunting over the water-soldier filled ditches in the summer flower meadow. We also had good views of Black-tailed Skimmers, both males and females, Emerald Damselflies, Ruddy and Common Darters. There were a couple of Brown Hawkers, a few Large Red Damselflies and the expected Blue-tailed, Azure and Common Blue Damselflies.

On the bird watching front the highlight was definitely an Osprey, seen perched in a tree opposite the reserve entrance hide! We also had good views of Marsh Harriers and watched young Sedge Warblers "playing" in the reeds alongside the field ditches.

Teardrop Lakes
8 July 1998

An evening visit with the Milton Keynes Natural History Society in overcast and breezy conditions never promised much in the way of Odonata. Many Blue-tailed Damselflies and several White-legged were found sheltering in the waterside vegetation. Also single specimens of Common Blue and Azure Damselfly.

Howe Park Wood
7 July 1998

A sunny but breezy lunchtime tempted me out to look at the ponds near the car park at Howe Park Wood. Azure and Blue-tailed Damselfly were immediately apparent. There were also a few Four-spotted Chasers patrolling the water. A male Emperor Dragonfly with a strongly downcurved abdomen was also ceaselessly patrolling, and chasing away another of his species from the next pond down. A male Broad-bodied Chaser made frequent sorties from his perch on a waterside Figwort plant. He was guarding his "harem" of two very brightly coloured females both ovipositing in the floating plants.

Also seen were some newly emerged darter dragonflies, Probably Ruddy Darter but not definitely confirmed. Common Blue and Large Red Damselflies brought the lunchtime count up to 8 species.

Sane Copse, Yardley Chase, Northants.
5 July 1998

This visit to a restricted access site was organised by Richard Eden for the Northants local group of the British Dragonfly Society. Seventeen members arrived on the day and explored the old, rain fed, horseshoe shaped ponds in the woodland in quite cloudy conditions with a few sunny intervals. Fourteen species were found in total. The most notable for the site was a female White-legged Damselfly f. lactea. This was the first record of this species for the site which is not really suitable, having no running streams or rivers.

The other damselfly species found were Blue-tailed, Large Red, Azure, Common Blue, Emerald and Red-eyed (observed emerging). Larvae of Red-eyed were also found.

Both Common and Ruddy Darters were seen. The males have not yet acquired there red colouration, appearing orangeish yellow on the day. A larva of Common Darter and several exuviae of both species were also discovered.

We watched a male Emperor Dragonfly patrolling a pond and were lucky enough to get a good view of him as he settled on a reed for a couple of minutes. One can often watch for a long time without seeing this species settle at all. We also saw many Four-spotted Chasers, a few Southern Hawkers and Black-tailed Skimmers and a single specimen of Brown Hawker.

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