Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The continued expansion of Beautiful Demoiselle!

Over the last week Beautiful Demoiselle has been recorded in two new locations. The first was found by myself on a Wilts VCR bioblitz event at Lower Chicksgrove, near Tisbury last Saturday. I found a single teneral female next to the Nadder in less than ideal weather conditions!It has been recorded on the Nadder nearby before but not at this location.
Then Damian Pinguey found a teneral male by the Bristol Avon at Staverton - one of the main Scarce Chaser sites. There is a large population of Banded Demoiselles there, but never has Beautiful Demoiselle been seen there before; the river there is not at all the habitat type you'd usually associate with C. virgo!
It may be that subtle changes in our climate are affording this species the chance to be less demanding in it's habitat needs?

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Mid-May Update.

Since my last post things odonatological have moved apace!Broad-bodied Chasers are being seen around the county now with Gareth Harris finding one emerging and two exuviae, in the rain, at Oakfrith Wood pond by Urchfont on the 10th.On the 13th, Colin Pinchen found 6 BBC's at Stanton Park pond complex just north of Swindon. On the 14th I found my first BBC's - at Lower Moor Farm; the male was very skittish but the female allowed close approach for a full frame shot! On the same day Phil Smith discovered 3 Scarce Chasers [plus a dead one in a spider's web!] at the Caen Hill flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal in Devizes. This species hasn't been seen there since their initial discovery in 2008! No exuviae have been found so it's still uncertain as to whether they breed there or are using the lock turning ponds as maturation sites [the River Avon being not too far away....]Here is one of Phil's super shots; more can be seen on his Flickr photostream. In the south, Lorraine Blakey watched an emerging Large Red Damselfly in her new garden pond. She got shots of it broaching the surface but then had to go to work... Then later she visited Langford Lakes where she recorded Red-eyed, Common Blue, Blue-tailed and Banded Demoiselles; plus a fairly mature Broad-bodied Chaser. On the same day Gareth saw a patrolling male Hairy Dragonfly and an ovipositing female at Swillbrook...and I still haven't seen an adult in Wilts! On the 17th Alison Maddock watched a male Beautiful Demoiselle in her Bratton garden which had obviously traveled there from the nearby Stradbrook. Also garden watching another male in their garden was Damian Pinguey in his Chippenham garden! I visited the Caen Hill locks also on the 17th to see if I could find any of the Scarce Chasers. I managed to see one but never got a shot before it disappeared over the trees lining the canal! Also there were hundreds of Red-eyed Damselflies and a smattering of Blue-tailed and Azures. But the surprise was a freshly emerged Black-tailed Skimmer in a patch of nettles! Joint first for the year, as Colin also saw a teneral at Lower Moor on the same day! Finally, and right up to date, Colin emailed me while I was compiling this post, to inform me he has just seen a male Emperor dragonfly at Somerford Common near Minety - the first reported to me for the year!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Another Hairy exuvia and some 4-Spots!

As there was a brief fine spell yesterday afternoon I decided to visit Swillbrook myself. I was shown the location by the original recorder - and within minutes I'd found my first ever Wiltshire Hairy Dragonfly exuvia! So at least 2 now have successfully completed their life-cycle at this spot. It too had used the sword like leaf of a Yellow Flag plant to emerge on.
As well as previously recorded Large Red, Azure, Blue-tailed, Common Blue and Red-eyed Damselflies in various stages of development, there were also several Four-spotted Chasers; from larvae to pre-flight emergents. Another new one for the year!
I had just been given an iPhone 4s from my daughter [she'd just upgraded to the 5c] and thought I'd try out the camera on it. Not a bad result I think you'll agree! Finally, we went across to the Southern end of Mallard Lake where, after some searching, we found a Downy Emerald exuvia. So nice to know they are still using both ends of this lake.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Hairy Wiltshire!

At last, one observer has finally proved breeding of Hairy Dragonfly in Wiltshire! After several years of the odd sighting of flying adults an exuvia was found yesterday on Yellow Flag emerging from the northern margin of Swillbrook Lake, close to the footpath. Although in administrative Gloucestershire this site is in North Wilts VC7. Maybe over the next few days more will emerge or adults will be seen on the wing...or both! This is also the first breeding record for the Cotswold Water Park.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Another new dragon for the year.

Paul Ritchie visited one of the sites in the New Forest bit of VC8 yesterday and found 6 Broad-bodied Chasers, the first reported for the year. The bright sun is deceptive as the wind is quite cool. I think it may be another week yet before more general activity is discovered. Here's one of the great images he got. Many thanks for the loan Paul :o)

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Lower Moor comes up trumps!

After the initial Large Red Damselfly sighting there have now been several more spread across the county - but no other species. Until, that is, a last minute decision sent me out to the CWP on Wednesday 30th April when it became apparent the fog had burned off and turned into a lovely sunny day. On arriving at the boardwalk adjacent to Cottage Lake, which is a regular emergence site for Downy Emerald what should I find...a single Downy Emerald larva climbing up the edging board. I then proceeded to watch and photograph it's emergence - which took 4 hours!! It wasn't until I reviewd my shots that I realised it had emerged with it's front left had leg missing! Not sure if it lost it during emergence or it never developed in the first place?? I also had a walk along the track by Mallard Lake and it became apparent that a mass emergence of Common Blue Damselflies was happening. I counted at least 50 with new individuals flying up out of the lake margin all the time! In [administrative Gloucestershire but Wilts VC7] lakes nearby others reported at least 14 Downys emerging and other species seen too were Large Red, Red-eyed, Blue-tailed and Azure damsels. So it's all starting to happen; just need the sunny weather to continue....