Monday, 29 June 2009

GW Hospital Pond, Swindon.

Given that Small Red-eyed Damselflies [SRED'S] have started to appear in a few southern counties over the last few days, I thought I'd have a look at the hospital pond [even though 26th July is earliest date there so far!]. No SRED'S yet but there were a few Red-eyed there which is a new species for the site - probably spread from Coate Water nearby. Also present were hundreds of Common Blue Damsels, a few Blue-tailed and 3 male Emperors holding territory. As the pond is only a 7 minute stroll from my house I'll check regularly and report as soon as they appear. Still 28degC at 5.30pm!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Rivers and Lakes

Today I visited a couple of sites where Beautiful Demoiselles have been found last year. One on the Cole just north of Inglesham and another on the Thames. Didn't see any at either site but plenty of Banded's about plus Common Blue, Blue-tailed, and a few White-legged and Red-eyed Damsels. One male Emperor patrolling along the Thames.
At Coate Water in Swindon, on the model boating lake, a male Emperor plus ovipositing female. Also Common Blue damsels, Red-eyed and a 4-spot Chaser. Star though was a male Brown Hawker - first for the year - which I managed to capture in flight.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Dragonfly watching -street cafe style!

While enjoying a belated Father's Day treat from my daughters [a meal and the cinema]we were sat at an outdoor table at Frankie and Benny's at Greenbridge retail park, Swindon. What should give a slow flypast but a male Southern Hawker - my first for the year,and THE first for Wilts unless anyone else has already seen one. I can only assume it had come from the River Cole which flows through the middle of this retail park [although it is little more than a stream at this point!]
I also received a belated report of a male Beautiful Demoiselle at Stanton Park Wood on 30th May, seen by Tony Martin. This is the first record for Swindon and, along with last years sightings from the Thames and just north of Inglesham, we now have a distinct presence in the North-east of the county.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Another 'Beautiful Location'!

Mike Hamzij just emailed me to say that this morning he discovered another new site for Beautiful Demoiselle, near Broughton Gifford. This is on the same stream as he found the others near Little Chalfield but is 3kms away. This species will soon be catching up with Banded Demoiselle in the extent of it's distribution!

Sightings for 16th June 2009

I visited Roves Farm scrape by the River Cole in the afternoon, in the hope of finding an early Ruddy Darter - no luck there. But even though the scrape had dwindled to two muddy pools it was heaving with odonata!
Black-tailed Skimmers were everywhere, from territorial males, to mating couples and a female making her maiden flight! Must have been about 20-25 of them.
Also about 7 male Broad-bodied Chasers were on territory having constant battles with the 8-10 Four-spotted Chasers present too. A poor female BB Chaser was trying to quietly lay her eggs but was being constantly harassed by pumped up males trying to mate with her - this even included a male 4-spot [well, I suppose she does look a bit like a fat version of a 4-spot!]I tried a first attempt at in-flight shots of dragonflies using her as the subject. I don't think they turned out too bad [though they'll never be competition winners;o)]
Above all this mayhem patrolled 2 serene male Emperors.
Damselflies present included loads of Common Blue, Azure and Red-eyed Damselflies. Plus a few Blue-tailed [not sure if there are less of them or if they are just better at hiding!].
Finally, as I walked along the short accessible stretch of the River Cole that is near the scrape, I saw 4 male and 1 female Banded Demoiselles - plus a single White-legged Damselfly. Numbers of the latter species seem to have been dropping at this site during the past 3 to 4 years. It may be that the succession of summer flash flooding has scoured the banks clear of the lush emergent vegetation that this species loves....
But not a bad tally for just over an hour at the end of the afternoon.

Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) Ovipositing female 1.

Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) Ovipositing female. 2.

Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) Ovipositing female. 3.

A case of mistaken identity!

A case of mistaken identity!, originally uploaded by od0man.

Banded Demoiselle (Callopteryx splendens).

Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa).

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Sightings from Sunday 14th June

Damian emailed me to say he'd visited 'The Pond' in Chippenham on Sunday to check it out for Red-veined Darters - no luck I'm afraid. But he did see loads of Black-tailed Skimmers, Broad-bodied Chasers and both a male and an ovipositing female Emperor. Plus Azure, Common, Blue-tailed and Red-eyed Damselflies.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Mike Hamzij visited his 'local patch' - the Bristol Avon near Whaddon, Trowbridge today and, despite the weather, found the following:

"First Red-eyed Damselflies of year there; only 4 on one patch lilies. Also first Emperor.
Literally 100's Banded Demoiselles, Plenty White-legged and Blue-tailed plus few Common Blue and Azure Damselflies. Scarce Chaser absent today."

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Early june on the Bristol Avon

Geoff Dicker has very kindly sent some photos of a few of the species he saw on the Avon near Whaddon the other evening. From top to bottom: White-legged Damselfly male; White-legged female; Banded Demoiselle mating pair. Nothing current to report - the weather needs to improve first....!

Friday, 5 June 2009

1st June Sighting

Just received a note from Ian Gray [with supporting photo - not digital] that he found a small colony of Beautiful Demoiselles at another new location on 1st June. It is a small fast flowing stream which eventually runs into the Salisbury Avon. The spot is about halfway between Patney and Etchilhampton - east of Devizes - called Hail Bridge.
It just goes to show if you risk a speculative visit to a new location you never know what you might unearth. It's beginning to look as if this species is far more widespread in Wiltshire than previously thought. Some of it may be due to genuine recent expansion but some is probably due to increasing observer coverage. This wet weather will obviously quieten things down for a while but hopefully for not too long.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Sightings for Wed 3rd June.

I visited the CWP yesterday looking at several suitable pits for Red-veined Darters - but with no success. There were a couple of Broad-bodied Chasers however, a scarce species in the water park, and lots of Black-tailed Skimmers in all stages from pre-flight tenerals to mature territorial males. Also a couple of Emperors plus various damselflies - particularly tens of thousands of Common Blue Damselflies and also Red-eyed Damsels in a new location.
One male Downy Emerald patrolling the usual spot at Lower Moor Farm.
I hope the change in the weather is only short lived - 3 bad summers in a row could be devastating.

Records for 1st June

Geoff Dicker sent me the following observations:
"Just to let you know that a late afternoon walk along the Avon at Whaddon on Monday 1st June produced :-

3 Scarce Chasers (2 male and one female)
1 Emperor
Many White-Legged Damselfly, Banded and Beautiful Demoiselle.

Most of the activity was around the large patched of nettles opposite Monkton House either side of the bridge. As a relative newcomer to "dragon" watching I observed some interesting behaviour involving an Emperor dragonfly seemingly being mobbed by Banded Demoiselles similar to the mobbing of birds of prey by smaller birds. Is this regular behaviour I wonder?"

This mobbing behaviour is something I've only observed from larger dragonflies such as 4-spotted Chasers and Black-tailed Skimmers. Has anyone else noticed this from Demoiselles or other damselflies?

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

31st May & 2nd June

Tricia Porch reported the following to me yesterday:
"There's quite a few broad bodied chasers near the ponds along the Red
Lodge rides. They've been emerging this last week and I've seen at
least 8 on one walk. Today, I also saw a black tailed skimmer. Also
large red and common blue damselflies about."

Also, on Sunday 31st May, Jenny Vickers found two Golden-ringed Dragonflies at Stourhead whilst doing a bird count. This is a first record for Stourhead although I long suspected they ought to be there. Photo on her Blog at: