Sunday, 21 October 2018

Wonderful Willow Count

We have been having some very unseasonal warm weather of late and yesterday was no different with cloudless skies, no wind and temperatures reaching 18 degrees celsius. I was dropped off at Nethergong at midday where I spent three and a half hours walking around the site checking all the likely areas for dragonflies. In the beautiful warm sunshine, I managed to find and excellent total of 61 Willow Emerald Damselfly which somewhat surprised me. They seemed to be everywhere and no doubt others were missed. Pairs were seen in tandem along the stream, ovipositing in various areas whilst males perched along the stream waiting for females to pass. Whilst I expected to see quite a few, to see so many late on in the season was surprising but I expect the warmer weather of late has helped somewhat. Hopefully they may continue for a few weeks yet if the weather allows but it seems the temperature is starting to fall away during the next week. As I walked around, I managed to see c50 Common Darter. Quite a few males were resting on the exposed warm dry mud whilst others were seen either mating, in tandem or ovipositing. I did manage at one point to lay on my stomach and slowly creep up on a mating pair which allowed quite a close approach where a few photos were obtained.
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) - mating pair
 Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) - female clasping on to male abdomen

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) - male
It was nice to see 3 Migrant Hawkers still on the wing. A couple of active males flying around whilst another male just wanted to enjoy the heat of the sunshine. This allowed me to take a number of images of this species which hopefully won't be my last encounter with them this year. With a week off work this week, I'm hoping for a few sunny days so I can make a visit or two to see how the different species are fairing as we head towards November.


Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - male

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Weekday Willows

With the weather warm and light winds yesterday afternoon, I thought I would have a rare visit after work to Nethergong to see what could be found. Arriving at 4pm in still sunny mild conditions, I spent an hour walking around a few areas where I managed to find 10 Willow Emerald Damselfly which included 1 pair seen ovipositing, 34 Common Darter and just the one Migrant Hawker. The Willow Emerald Damselflies have now taken on their mature colouring and it was nice to find one showing nicely along the stream where I was able to take a few images with a nice autumnal coloured background. Weather permitting, I hope that they have a few weeks at least yet to secure next years generation and that I can make a few more visits during the next few weekends to enjoy them before the season comes to a close.

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) - male
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) - male

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Willows in the Wind!

I had a three hour window to get out today and despite the 20mph gusty winds, the forecast was for some warm sunshine with temperatures around twenty degrees celsius. I wanted to see how the Willow Emerald Damselflies were fairing since my last visit and despite the afore mentioned strong wind, I managed to find a creditable 31 Willow Emerald Damselfly. I would suspect if I had stayed longer and the wind had been not so strong that I would have seen quite a few more as there were a few areas I didn't look at. Nonetheless, it always nice to be able to see the males on territory and pairs in tandem flying up the stream to their next location to oviposit. Also seen today were 100+ Common Darter and when the sun finally got some heat in it, they seemed to be everywhere. The stream had continual pairs flying in and out to oviposit and a number of males were seen basking as well as a few mating pairs noted. There were c15 Migrant Hawker on the wing and visiting a few sheltered warm areas revealed a few basking in the sunshine. I spent some time here enjoying the sights and sounds and couldn't resist a few photos of a male Migrant Hawker which allowed quite a close approach for me to study and photograph. I doubt I will be out tomorrow so will have to wait another week until my next visit to see what's about. Hopefully by then, it will be sunny, warm and windless. We can but hope!

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - male

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Migrant Hawker v's Southern Migrant Hawker

With the excellent season this year for the Southern Migrant Hawkers in Southern England and with good numbers at some locations being noted, it looks likely that this dragonfly will hopefully continue to expand its range over the next few years. I was fortunate enough earlier in the year to find my first Southern Migrant Hawker exuviae in Essex and having never seen them before, I was not too sure of the features needed to confirm the identity to this species. Although Southern Migrant Hawkers emerge slightly earlier than the Migrant Hawker, there will no doubt be an overlap as far as finding exuviae so with this in mind and not that much information readily available in books and the internet, I decided to photograph the two species exuviae alongside each other to show the main feature differences between them. As well as personally now being quite confident with identifying both species exuviae in the field, I am hopeful that they will provide some valuable information for other enthusiasts to use should they come either species exuviae in the near future.