Thursday 13 June 2024

Not So 'Scarce' This Year

Whilst at Oare Marshes last week looking for the Dainty Damselflies, It was quite obvious that there were quite a few Scarce Emerald Damselfly in the long grasses. I had a few walks around the area where I found up to 25 Scarce Emerald Damselfly. Most were immature males and females but a search did reveal a smart male which prompted me to take a few pleasing images of this scarce damselfly. Hopefully the images show some of the key features, that being half of S2 being blue and the incurved anal appendages. The males do tend to show brighter blue eyes but this male has yet to acquire them. More good news when today, Dave Brown visited the site and had 62 'Emerald' Damselflies. I would imagine that all of these are Scarce emerald Damselfly. It is only possible at Oare to survey a few small areas but again, I would imagine that there are plenty more in the nearby ditches. It would be nice if the rare Southern Emerald Damselfly colonised the area as it looks really good. They were found nearby last year a stones throw away at Seasalter so you never know. 














Scarce Emerald Damselfly (Lestes dryas) - male

Saturday 8 June 2024

Dainties Doing well

With a busy day planned for yesterday (Friday) visiting Oare Marshes to survey for Dainty Damselfly and then over to mid Kent to look for Golden ringed Dragonfly, I was out for most of the day. The morning started at 08:30 where I visited Oare Marshes again to see whether the Dainty Damselfly was to be seen in better numbers. On arrival at the site in sunny warm conditions, I had barely arrived when I saw 2 male Dainty Damselfly resting in the grass. I spent the next 2 hours walking around the site checking the grasses, ditches and the breeding pool where I saw at least 50 Dainty Damselfly. This is all to be seen in a small area and heaven knows, how many more there might have been in areas where I could not survey them. As much as I didn't want to take a lot more photos, I found myself once again getting a number of very pleasing photos of this small damselfly. I think this has been the best year for me in obtaining photos of this little stunner. As the time went on, I started to see tandem pairs and a few mating pairs. A look over the pool around 10:30 saw about 15 males patrolling for females. I'm sure If I had stayed around for a few hours longer, my total numbers would probably have been higher. Also to be seen there included c25 Scarce Emerald Damselfly which prompted more photos which shall be posted in due coarse, 1 Norfolk Hawker and a few Four spotted Chaser. After returning back to the car around 11am, I then drove over to a site in the middle of Kent where Golden ringed Dragonfly can be seen. I don't normally visit this site until mid July so I wasn't sure if I would be successful. After arriving, a few hours at the stream revealed c30 Beautiful Demoiselle, c10 Banded Demoiselle, 2 White legged Damselfly, c10 Large Red Damselfly, 1 Broad bodied Chaser and 1 Golden ringed Dragonfly which posed briefly but was never seen again. I will have to return again in mid July to see whether I can see the Golden ringed Dragonfly in better numbers. Whilst at the stream, I decided to have a look in the reeds for exuviae and knowing that Beautiful Demoiselle were on site and that I hadn't got any in my collection, I was eager to find some. I managed to find 5 Demoiselle exuviae and after getting back home and checking them with the hand lens, I had found 4 Beautiful Demoiselle and 1 Banded Demoiselle exuviae, a right result. Another successful day and with 2 dragonfly tours over the next 2 weekends, I shall be kept bust hopefully educating others about the Odonata of Kent. 








                                            
Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - female














                                        
 Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - female








Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - male

Tuesday 4 June 2024

Super Sandwich!

With some warm temperatures forecast for yesterday and occasional sunshine, I thought I would have a few hours down at Sandwich Bay to see how the Dainty Damselflies were doing and to see the work the observatory have been doing in the Dainty field. On arrival at 1030am, the sun was starting to come through and it already felt quite warm and after a chat with Steffan (the warden), I made my way to the site. It certainly had changed with a raised walking area to the pools and two new pools dug out which hopefully the Damselflies will soon find in the next year or so. I hadn't been walking for long when I soon started to see Dainty Damselflies in the grasses and everywhere I looked, they were present. I spent some time photographing the smart males before visiting the original pool where there were many flying out over the water, mating pairs in the grasses and tenerals leaving the pool for the first time. I must have seen at least 300 Dainty Damselfly and I'm sure there must have been more present. They really were everywhere with just the occasional Blue tailed Damselfly and Azure Damselfly seen. It just shoes if the habitat is correct, they will indeed flourish. With a number of photos taken and hopefully a pot of Dainty exuviae collected which I will have to check carefully, I made my way back to the car and then off over to Grove Ferry for a couple of hours. It was still warm on arrival at 2pm but more cloudier and in my walk around, I only managed to find c12 Norfolk Hawker. I'm hoping that the weather made a few perch up and not fly around rather than a number of dykes which seem quite overgrown now. Hopefully their numbers will increase in the coming days. I did find an obliging male to photograph which hopefully shows off how stunning this species is. A thoroughly enjoyable day, more like this please!








Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - male


Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - pair in tandem


Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - mating pair


Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - male


Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - newly emerged female


Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - mating pair


Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - pair in tandem


Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - female








Norfolk Hawker (Aeshna isosceles) - male

Thursday 30 May 2024

Wonderful Westbere!

I had most of the day out yesterday (29th May) starting early at 7am at Oare Marshes where the plan was to see whether I could find any Scarce Emerald exuviae for my collection. Whilst I have 2 in my collection already gifted to me, I really wanted to find my own. I arrived in good time and settled in at the side of the waters edge and slowly started scanning the tall grasses and reeds. After a while I found one and was pretty chuffed with this but in the next hour, I found c8 Scarce Emerald Damselfly exuviae. I also saw a few Scarce Emerald Damselfly in the reeds resting. I then called into Oare Gunpowder works for the first time to see whether I could find any Beautiful Demoiselle which have been seen here in small numbers in recent years. Despite not the best of weather, I failed to find any but did see a few Large Red and Azure Damselfly and 1 female Banded Demoiselle. It looks good here and I can well imagine Downy Emerald and Lesser Emperor spreading here. I shall return. Next it was over to Westbere Lakes around midday where I spent an amazing 4 hours walking around the site in pretty good weather. This really is a superb place for dragonflies and damselflies and I cannot recommend it enough if you want to see a good range of species and get a few photos. At times, I honestly didn't know where to look or point the camera. I managed to see c37 Scarce Chaser, 15 Norfolk Hawker, c10 Hairy Dragonfly, c400 Banded Demoiselle, 1 Four spotted Chaser, 1 Broad bodied Chaser as well as hundreds of Variable, Azure and Blue tailed Damselfly and a few Red eyed and Common Blue Damselfly. It really was a feast for the eyes. As you can imagine, I spent quite some time taking a number of very pleasing images depicting these amazing insects. With another week off yet, I am hopeful of a few more visit around Kent weather permitting to see what else can be found and photographed. As if my day couldn't get any better, I received a message later in the day from Steve in Whitstable that a male Stag Beetle had just flown into his garden. I duly made the short drive and was able to see this stunning insect up close and take a few photos. After I left, another male turned up. An excellent day of odonata and a thrilling end with the Stag Beetle. 





Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) - male


Four spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) - female





Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) - Immature male (top) and adult male














Norfolk Hawker (Aeshna isosceles) - male





Stag Beetle - male