Saturday, 21 July 2018

Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis) Continues to Spread in Kent

With the Southern Migrant Hawker continuing to be seen in good numbers around the Cliffe area, I suppose it wasn't a surprise that they would eventually start to spread to other parts of the county. The past few years have seen me visiting Wat Tyler Country Park and Canvey Island in Essex to see this stunning species and this year, I did make another visit to Canvey Island this year where I managed to see c50 teneral Southern Migrant Hawkers making their maiden flights from the reedbeds. Other enthusiasts visited this site in the next few weeks and continued to see good numbers emerging and so it seemed that this year was going to be a bumper year, and this is most definitely how it has played out. Good numbers were seen all around the Cliffe area and having not seen the species in Kent, I made a few visits and thankfully, third time lucky, I managed to see and photograph a female Southern Migrant Hawker. I thought that this was probably going to be my last encounter with this species this year but during the past week or so, up to 3 have been seen at Sandwich Bay and up to 3 at Oare Marshes. With Oare being much nearer than Cliffe for me and the sun shining well today, I made a visit to the site arriving around 12:15pm where I made my way to the ditches on the west flood where they had been seen. It wasn't long until I was watching a stunning male Southern Migrant Hawker in flight passing by me only a metre or so away at times and showing off those superb blue colours. The next challenge was then to try to get a few images in flight which I spent a couple of hours trying and ended up with a few pleasing images. It only landed a couple of times but I made the most of the chance and rattled off a few more images showing off these dragonflies to their best. I then spent an hour walking around the ditches on the East and West flood and managed to see 6 Southern Migrant Hawker, all males and also spoke to a few other enthusiasts who had seen a mating pair in another area. Add to this, Four spotted Chasers, Black tailed Skimmers, Small Red eyed Damselflies, 1 Emperor Dragonfly, a few Emerald Damselfly, Blue tailed and Common Blue Damselflies, lots of Common and Ruddy Darters and c10 Migrant Hawker exuviae collected from the emergent vegetation, this reserve is an excellent site to see a good range of species of Odonata. Hopefully the Southern Migrant Hawker will continue to spread within the county and become well established at a number of new sites. The future looks bright, in fact, it looks electric blue!

Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis) male

Monday, 16 July 2018

Stunning Southerns

I made an after work visit to Nethergong tonight, arriving at 16:30pm where I spent an hour walking alongside the stream checking for dragonflies and damselflies in very hot conditions. I didn't manage to find any Willow Emerald Damselfly but it was pleasing to see c25 Emerald Damselfly (only 3 seen at the weekend). Most seemed to be newly emerged and although a little late this year, it seems that they may well have a successful season if there numbers continue to grow. I would hope at the weekend to be seeing a few Willow Emerald Damselfly emerging from the stream. As I continued to walk around, I saw 4 Southern Hawker flying up and down the paths before resting up at times briefly which allowed me to take a few photos of this stunningly coloured species. Also seen were 1 Brown Hawker, 2 Emperor Dragonfly and good numbers of Blue tailed and Azure Damselfly.

Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) - Immature male

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Saturday Sunshine

With the weekend here and some lovely warm, windless weather forecast for this morning, I decided on an early morning walk at Nethergong. I arrived at 5:45am where I spent a couple of hours walking around the area and checking likely areas for Emerald and Willow Emerald Damselflies. The weather was stunning early morning as I walked along the stream but again, failed to find and Willow Emerald Damselflies although a few have no doubt emerged and are maturing up in the nearby trees. I would imagine that by next weekend, I should be seeing Willow Emerald Damselfly numbers starting to slowly build. I did manage to find 4 Emerald Damselfly, 3 newly emerged and 1 dewy male which provided a few photo opportunities in the early morning sunshine.

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa)  - male
I also saw a few Banded Demoiselle, Azure Damselfly as well as 4 Southern Hawker and 1 Brown Hawker. With a few hours still to spare, I moved on to Grove Ferry where I spent the time wandering around where I noted a good 27+ Norfolk Hawker which included 4 mating pairs. Although a few had battle scars, there were a good number still in good condition. Also seen here were 10+ Small red eyed Damselfly, c10 Black tailed Skimmer, c10 Emperor Dragonfly, 3 Brown Hawker as well as good numbers of Blue tailed and Azure Damselfly. A most pleasant relaxing morning.

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa)  - male 

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa)  - teneral female

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Early Season Willow Fix

With a Willow Emerald Damselfly emerging a few nights ago from my garden pond, I wanted to make sure that I took the damselfly back to Nethergong where I collected the nymph to release it so it could stand the best chance of continuing the cycle of life for this species. I spent a couple of hours walking along the stream where in cloudy conditions, I was not surprised to see any at all, but a quick netting session again at least provided me with a few Willow Emerald and Emerald Damselfly nymphs in the shallows preparing to emerge soon. With the conditions not ideal for flying, I released the male Willow Emerald Damselfly on to a stick on the edge of the reeds where I then spent a while taking a number of photos knowing it was unlikely to fly off. Despite the lack of sunshine, I surprisingly ended up with a few pleasing efforts of this superb damselfly showing some of the characteristics required to identify this species. Hopefully in a few weeks there will be a good number flying and I will be able to spend time in their company studying, learning and photographing this still rare damselfly. Roll on the Willow season.


Willow Emerald Damselfy (Chalcolestes viridis) Teneral Male