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2019 Dragonfly Season

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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 09:42   #26
Farnboro John
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Originally Posted by Timbirder3 View Post
Hi Paul, Thanks for the suggestion. Looks near enough to be doable, but it's a vast area. Any tips on best areas?
Cheers
Tim
Or where to park? I've driven past there many times but never thought of stopping.

John
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 18:29   #27
Dave Ball
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Hi Paul, Thanks for the suggestion. Looks near enough to be doable, but it's a vast area. Any tips on best areas?
Cheers
Tim
...and more importantly, where are the Brilliant Ems? I’m near Tim, in Bedford, and it would be good to have a nearer site than Thursley (though preferably one that avoids the M25). It’s a species I’ve only seen once and still need to photograph, and I’ve never done well at Thursley after the first time, though admittedly more recently it’s tended to be calling in on the way back from something else.

Nice to see you at Beds’s only Beautiful Dem site the other day, Tim. New Odonata seem to be popping up all over in our county, Martin Green was suggesting Southern Emerald damsels are getting into Herts now, but I haven’t checked how near to our county line.
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Old Sunday 11th August 2019, 14:26   #28
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Warren Heath

The info should be in the attached link Warren Heath

I found room to park near the industrial estate on the B3016 and crossed the road and then went across a shallow ditch on the north (Warren Heath) side of the road. I found Golden-ringed along the stream that runs from the gravel track down to the middle pond and also where the stream runs down through the mire/boggy area from the top pond. There were at least 5 patrolling males when I visited on 16.07.14

I haven't visited since 16.07.14 so I don't know if you can still park along the B3016 or if you can still access Warren Heath from there.

Species list 17.07.13
Banded & Beautiful Demoiselle,
Emerald, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Azure, Red-eyed, Large Red and Small Red Damselfly
Brown and Southern Hawker
Emperor, Hairy and Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Downy & Brilliant Emerald
Four-spotted and Broad-bodied Chaser
Black-tailed and Keeled Skimmer
Black and Common Darter

Species list 16.07.14
Banded & Beautiful Demoiselle,
Emerald, Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Azure, Red-eyed, Large Red and Small Red Damselfly
Migrant, Brown and Southern Hawker
Emperor and Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Downy & Brilliant Emerald
Four-spotted Chaser
Black-tailed and Keeled Skimmer
Black, Ruddy and Common Darter

There is some more information on Paul Ritchie's Site
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Old Sunday 11th August 2019, 16:30   #29
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Thanks Paul, Very helpful. Hoping to try over the bank holiday if the weather is ok. Just back from photographing Willow Emerald in Beds. (A county tick for me)
Tim
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Old Sunday 11th August 2019, 16:31   #30
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Been struggling to find decent weather over recent weekends for butterfly/dragonfly watching. Today, though less than ideal, thought worth going to Canvey,

Still blustery on the top of the bank but down by the ditch more sheltered. At the entrance end was totally dry and much trodden + browsed by the cattle. In the end we saw almost 30 male Southern Migrant Hawkers + one female in cop. Several of the males were perched giving great views. All looked in peak condition.

Otherwise large numbers of Ruddy Darter, a single male Common Darter, a female Southern Hawker that perched low on a hawthorn, small number of Scarce Emeralds + surprisingly a male Small Red-eyed Damselfly perched on a bramble. Presumably a wanderer or migrant as not suitable habitat here for it.

I was hoping we might see a Southern Emerald Damselfly, but like last year, no sign.

Quite a few butterflies including several Brown Argus + a Grass Snake in a wet part of the ditch.
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Old Tuesday 20th August 2019, 22:58   #31
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I had a go at a Southern Emerald Damselfly site earlier in the season and struck out, probably because there was a gale blowing and cloud cover though intermittent was more cloud than blue.

Today I had another go since there have been a couple on show at Winterton for several days so the season for them clearly is not over, and scored 2+ males and at least 4 females.

Because there was trouble there last year I'm not going to say where I was but I can't stop you guessing. If anyone goes for goodness sake:

- park sensibly

- stay on the path (all the damselflies were near the far end and in the long grass, no need to trespass or crash about in habitat).

Enjoy.

38: Southern Emerald Damselfly X 5 (female X 3, male X 2)
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Old Wednesday 21st August 2019, 05:13   #32
aeshna5
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Some good shots, John. Good to know they are still there.
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Old Wednesday 21st August 2019, 08:52   #33
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There have been reports through the summer but always well in retrospect.

Now, here I am on 38 for the year, only Common Hawker still to do down here. I'd like to finish on 40 if I can: what are the odds on any of the Scottish beasties still being out?

Cheers

John
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Old Sunday 25th August 2019, 14:25   #34
Farnboro John
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A long day out yesterday - what we call "a total naturalist day" - birds, mammals, butterflies, moths and dragonflies all featuring and with species in several groups deliberately targeted.

For me the key species for the outing was Common Hawker, which I'm more than half inclined to start calling Moorland Hawker given that it certainly isn't common everywhere and in fact seems to have declined substantially in Southern Britain. The underlying question in my mind is how accurate the alternative title might be - I can't answer that myself...

Anyway, after a morning at Portland we cut up through Dorset to Somerset's Priddy Mineries and after initially trying to reach the wrong pool and falling about all over the place in horrible tussocky landscape we consulted Google. Consequently we were quickly parked by the correct pool and staking out the boggy far corner.

Eventually we had eyes on first a patrolling male and then several ovipositing females. They didn't keep still very long anywhere - with one exception - and photography was difficult. Of course we enjoy a challenge, but I think this one remains a work in progress. The pond was dominated by quite a lot of male Emperors (which didn't help) and later on Migrant Hawkers also appeared.

Anyway, 39: Moorland (Common) Hawker. As I've given up on Scotland I'm now hoping for a gettable vagrant species not too far away. 39 seen and photographed is some kind of achievement I guess.

After this session we dropped down to Ham Wall where we were really after Iberian Water Frogs (which didn't play at all) but had breeding Small Red-eyed Damselflies and a very showy perched up male Migrant Hawker.

John

Photos:

Emerald Damselfly male
Moorland (Common) Hawker male
Small Red-eyed Damselflies
Migrant Hawker male
Migrant Hawker female
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Last edited by Farnboro John : Sunday 25th August 2019 at 18:16.
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Old Sunday 25th August 2019, 15:42   #35
aeshna5
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Nice photos John. It's years since I've seen Common Hawker as they are virtually non-existent here in the south-east but your first photo of a female has a clear blackish costa. Shouldn't it be yellow in this species?
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Old Sunday 25th August 2019, 18:13   #36
Farnboro John
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Nice photos John. It's years since I've seen Common Hawker as they are virtually non-existent here in the south-east but your first photo of a female has a clear blackish costa. Shouldn't it be yellow in this species?
Aha, you are right - it does appear to be a Migrant Hawker also! Luckily the not-so-good picture is clearly a Common Hawker. Well spotted, and thank you. I should have paid more attention to my own words "with one exception..." not an unusually confiding Moorland but a normally confiding Migrant.

Cheers

John

Last edited by Farnboro John : Sunday 25th August 2019 at 18:17.
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Old Sunday 25th August 2019, 20:56   #37
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What's the deal with these Vagrant Emperors at Carlton Marshes? Are they available? I seem to remember a message about "area with no general access" a week or two ago.

I do want that no. 40.....

Cheers

John
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Old Sunday 25th August 2019, 21:35   #38
Dave Ball
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What's the deal with these Vagrant Emperors at Carlton Marshes? Are they available? I seem to remember a message about "area with no general access" a week or two ago.

I do want that no. 40.....

Cheers

John
I’ve been about to ask the same question on here several times - I was hoping someone would volunteer the info.

When the first ‘no general access’ message came out I did find a map of the reserve on line which showed the path through Share Marsh as ‘closed due to habitat creation work’, and that’s where some messages have placed them.

On a related note, this message was on the Atropos site recently:

‘Adrian Parr Saturday, 24 August 2019 08:41
An emergent second-generation Vagrant Emperor was spotted in the Netherlands on 23 August, the first time the species has bred successfully in NW Europe. After this year's massive influx, I expect Britain to soon follow suite.’

...though I believe that (using a butterfly term) they are more-or-less continuously brooded (or perhaps more correctly have only a short period as aquatic nymphs), so are unlikely to successfully overwinter in the UK?
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Old Sunday 25th August 2019, 21:59   #39
pdwinter
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...though I believe that (using a butterfly term) they are more-or-less continuously brooded (or perhaps more correctly have only a short period as aquatic nymphs), so are unlikely to successfully overwinter in the UK?
I think that up to to this year Vagrant Emperors have only been observed ovipositing in the UK in autumn - and the water would then not be warm enough for the larvae to develop and produce another generation.

This year they have been seen ovipositing in July so there is a chance that they can produce another generation.

There have been bugger all in Hampshire!

Paul
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Old Tuesday 27th August 2019, 07:32   #40
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A long day out yesterday - what we call "a total naturalist day" - birds, mammals, butterflies, moths and dragonflies all featuring and with species in several groups deliberately targeted.
Don't need to tell you how much I enjoyed your account, as usual, John. At the same time, in a very similar vein I was enjoying my own 'total naturalist day out' in the south-west. Started at Stover Country Park near Newton Abbott in an unsuccessful attempt for Brown Hairstreak but did see my first British Nightjar in five years; my first Hobbies of this year (yes, I know...we don't get many down here) and my first ever Small Red-eyed Damselflies out in the middle of the lake.

While watching the distant SReD wishing they would come closer for a photograph, I was tipped off that 2-3 of the species had been seen right in the heart of Plymouth city centre during the week. I still had a National Trust 'open moth night' to attend just north of the city (seeing my first Dipper in half-a-dozen years on the way up) but duly went there next day to check them out. There, just two minutes walk from the central bus station, on a concrete reservoir surrounded by bricks and mortar, I spent four hours on a blazing Bank Holiday Sunday seeing no less than seven species of Odonta. Might have been eight if the what was almost certainly a Lesser Emperor hadn't got away from me. I only left because a text came through saying 'get to a telly, quick' Ben Stokes is bashing the Aussies to all parts. (Just found a pub in time to see the winning ten runs )

Alas, just as at Stover the day before, the Small Red-eyed Damsels were too far off for my little pocket camera. I saw about ten of them, including a couple of mating wheels, and as far as I can tell they represent the most south-westerly extreme of the species spread across the UK.

Now to try and find some in Cornwall.

EDIT: Ah, I've just gone to my Inbox to PM Gastronaut and I see from earlier correspondence he actually found SReD on the Lizard last year. Think I'll go back to bed instead.

Last edited by Britseye : Tuesday 27th August 2019 at 07:37. Reason: More info
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Old Tuesday 27th August 2019, 15:30   #41
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Warren Heath-update

On Saturday I visited this area. I parked on the A30 at SU783583 as the industrial area mentioned by Paul was a refuse/recycling site right next to a travellers site and I didn't fancy my car being recycled! From here a short path led through to the B3016 from where it was easy to access Warren Heath, the entrance to which was handily signified by dumped rubbish.
Whether it was because of the lateness of the season or the heat Odonta were in fairly short supply. In a couple of hours I saw Emperor, Migrant and Brown Hawker, Common and Black Darter, Small Red, Red-eyed, Emerald and Common Blue Damselflies plus many Grayling Butterflies.
Access to the main pools was not too difficult but the stream between them was heavily overgrown and trying to follow a path along this resulted at one point in struggling through head-high bracken, while trying not to break my ankles on the uneven ground.
Despite my lack of success in finding Golden-ringed Dragonfly this looks a good site and if I lived closer it would be worth a visit earlier in the season but it was a hard slog, especially compared to Thursley.
In contrast to Thursley I saw just one other person while there despite it being a Bank Holiday.
Tim
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Old Sunday 20th October 2019, 08:16   #42
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I didn't think I'd be adding more to this thread, but it was a nice day yesterday in Southern England, and out I went.

Clare and I travelled down to Longham Lakes so that I could photograph the American Black Tern. She'd already done it while I was on Shetland, but came along for the added wildfowl at the site and as it turned out in discussion on the way down, because both of us had a sneaking suspicion that the recent records scattered across the country of Vagrant Emperor might mean one was lurking at Longham Lakes - it does have a track record for rare dragons in general, and I'd dipped a Vagrant Emperor there that flew over my head in the summer...

The tern was showing well as we reached the second lake, and we then picked out first the Ring-necked Duck and then a female Scaup among nearby Tufted Ducks - the birders already there seemed slightly miffed by having these picked out from under their noses when they'd already scanned the ducks several times.

About 1330 with the day not so much warm as hot and both Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters whizzing about in profusion I suggested to Clare we should have a look at the dragonfly pool. Not long after reaching it we had a large, sandy-brown hawker patrol right along the back of the pool, before disappearing behind the left-end reedbed. Wow! That looked right... it was a tense wait until it came back and flew for a short stretch straight towards us before turning away and then being lost as it zoomed skyward after prey.

Head-on I'd had an eyeful of brown-and-green eyes while side-on the sandiness (as Clare commented, "desert-coloured") was highly distinctive, and we decided we had enough to put the news out that we'd found a Vagrant Emperor.

Just after we did so the weather went suddenly awry and it started raining, so we set off for our next planned stop at Blandford for Otters(dipped). It was nice to hear that other people connected later. (I've just realised it might not be clear that I'm happy that other people connected with Vagrant Emperor at Longham Lakes later!)

So a happy ending to the 2019 dragonfly season: a rarity find and I got my 40th Odonata species for the year (though I had no chance of a picture). Grand day out!

John

Last edited by Farnboro John : Sunday 20th October 2019 at 17:35.
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Old Sunday 20th October 2019, 16:46   #43
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Congrats on that John. I've seen a fair number overseas but yet to see one over here. I'm off to southern Spain in a couple of weeks so will look out for them there.
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Old Sunday 20th October 2019, 17:36   #44
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Congrats on that John. I've seen a fair number overseas but yet to see one over here. I'm off to southern Spain in a couple of weeks so will look out for them there.
Good luck! Hopefully you will have a good chance over there.

John
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Old Monday 21st October 2019, 05:04   #45
aeshna5
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Good luck! Hopefully you will have a good chance over there.

John
Thanks, John.
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Old Thursday 24th October 2019, 17:49   #46
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With a good weather forecast and time for dragonflies definitely running out I decided to take a half day and have another go at the Vagrant Emperor(s) at Longham Lakes on Tuesday afternoon. I arrived at about 1230 to find almost still air and bright sunshine though with a threat of cloud encroaching from the North-west.

I found the Vagrant Emperor by the Eastern lake almost immediately but it was patrolling at high speed and not only did I lose it again almost immediately but in two further sightings it was far too quick for me even to get a bad record shot (with this being the only Odonata species seen this year I hadn't photographed, I was keen to get almost anything!)

Roaming the North shore of the lake trying to relocate the Vagrant Emperor (which was probably an Empress, as I didn't clearly register the saddle on any view and females have a much less contrasting pale violet one) I was suddenly stunned when an adult Otter popped out of the bushes at the head of the bank that falls away to the fields North of the site, galumphed in that rocking-horse way of mustelids across the wide path and dived into the reedbed at the lake's edge! I shouted to two nearby birders but it managed an Otter disappearing act and I didn't see it again - though later in the day I suspected its presence on the Western lake when all the ducks near the shore erupted away and even the Mute Swans veered further out and kept a wary eye on the edging vegetation. Access to all but the Eastern end of the Western lake, and consequently the dragonfly pool, was impossible throughout my stay due to management work (flailing the brambles and hedges with a JCB and attachment.) This was more than slightly annoying. I did see the American Black Tern again but it was far away across the lake: I didn't bother looking for the scarce ducks.

I covered an increasing length of the Eastern lake's shoreline after the Vagrant Emperor finally gave me the slip and didn't see it again, although I had loads of Common Darters and Migrant Hawkers including mating pairs of both species hung up and ovipositing. The other two birders I'd spoken to did get a view of it near my original sighting.

With cloud now in the majority and the temperature dropping dragonfly activity practically vanished by about 1700. Before leaving I added one of two Great White Egrets present to my tally for the day and left feeling it had been a very worthwhile use of a half day even without gaining a pic of the target species.

John
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Old Monday 28th October 2019, 12:00   #47
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Nice female Vagrant Emperor at Portland yesterday
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Old Monday 28th October 2019, 12:07   #48
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Nice female Vagrant Emperor at Portland yesterday
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Old Tuesday 29th October 2019, 19:32   #49
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Gripping! Interesting to see pretty much absence of saddle - no wonder I couldn't see it on the flying Longham dragon. I noted from the Portland Obs blog that it was available for an hour - nice!

John
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