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Hawker in Northumberland ID please (1 Viewer)

level seven

Registered user
Sorry, no photo as my compact camera isn't really suitable to take insects.

I know from Harry Eales' post on the Dragonflies in Northumberland thread that the most likely candidates around here are Common, Brown, Southern or maybe Migrant Hawker. The wings weren't brown, so that's ruled out presumably.

What struck me was the complete absence of colour as such. The abdomen was a patchwork of black, brown and off-white/grey.

The thorax (hope I have that right) was brown with a pair of diagonal off-white/grey elongated rectangular panels on each side.

The head was brown, and the legs black.

I can't find a match on the internet and my friend's book has nothing either.

Even if I haven't given enough details for a positive ID, I'd be interested in general terms to know if this lack of colour is characteristic of very young, or maybe old, individuals. Or any other reason for it.

Thanks.
 

MH68

Well-known member
It sounds like a Brown Hawker from your description Graham, apart from the lack of colour in the wings.Failing that possibly a female of one of the other species? I can try and track down some pics of females for you if that would help?

Mark H
 

Mouldy

skywatcher, dragonhunter
From your description Graham I would say a toss up between Migrant or Common which are both abundant this time of year, my fieldguide shows the imm Migrant which is very pale in the areas which later develop into bright blue or yellow, but I also remember reading that the colours even on mature adults look paler on cold days, which I think today could be classed as that!
Brown Hawkers aren't that common oop north and I reckon the two pale blocks on the thorax would rule Southern out as the thorax is quite uniform on this species.
That's my view anyway, somebody who knows better might yet put us both right.
 

level seven

Registered user
It sounds like a Brown Hawker from your description Graham, apart from the lack of colour in the wings.Failing that possibly a female of one of the other species? I can try and track down some pics of females for you if that would help?

Mark H
Funnily enough I do have a picture of a brown hawker in the one book I've got which mentions dragonflies at all (one covering all forms of wildlife, plant and animal, in Britain) which has exactly the thorax pattern I saw. They were yellow though.

I don't know if this pattern of double diagonal rectangles is found in any other hawker? Without a book (must get one!) I'm restricted to googling and most of the photos I've found are takem from above and so don't show the thorax sides, only the top.

If you have any photos you think might help, thanks.
 

harry eales

Ancient Entomologist
Hello Graham,

Getting a positive ID even when there are photographs available causes a lot of problems and argument

Dragonflies are like Birders 'Little Brown Jobs' on occasion, not always easy.

As Mouldy said dragonfly colour can be effected by air temperature, as it gets colder the colours fade or dull down. Colours also change during the life of the insect, the immature specimen freshly emerged being much paler and often a different colour to the fully mature specimens

There's a small chance that the type of habitat it was seen in may be of assistance. For example in the uplands of the county there are usually only three species found, Golden-ringed, Common and Migrant. Whilst these can be seen at lower altitudes, the Brown, Southern, and Emperor tend to be predominantly lowland species.

Harry.
 

MH68

Well-known member
Quick question Harry, but relevant to Grahams initial post....re Common Hawker, would the diagnostic yellow edge to the forewings still be prevalant in an immature or old specimen?
It`s a fairly obvious feature so as Graham didnt mention it in his first post that would probably rule out Common Hawker?

Mark H
 

harry eales

Ancient Entomologist
Quick question Harry, but relevant to Grahams initial post....re Common Hawker, would the diagnostic yellow edge to the forewings still be prevalant in an immature or old specimen?
It`s a fairly obvious feature so as Graham didnt mention it in his first post that would probably rule out Common Hawker?

Mark H

Hello Mark,

The yellow costa on Common Hawker is pale on teneral specimens but deepens with age and is still present on very old specimens.

However, it very much depends on the distance the observer is from the specimen and the angle it is viewed from as to whether the yellow costa can be clearly seen. Most observers go for body colour marking first as these are more easily seen.

Unfortunately Graham doesn't give details of the distance or for how long he watched the specimen.

I certainly wouldn't like to make a positive ID from the description alone.

Harry
 

MH68

Well-known member
Thanks Harry. I`m sure when Graham responds he`ll give some more details which may help.

Mark H
 

level seven

Registered user
Thanks Harry. I`m sure when Graham responds he`ll give some more details which may help.
Mark H
Yes, thanks Harry and also to Tristan for the photos.

Of course, I should have given the habitat as I would automatically have done for a bird ID. I'm very new at this and quite agree with Harry's comment about LBJs! Most birds are a doddle in comparison and they help by making sounds. Plants can be tricky too but at least they stay put! For next year I really need to get at least one good book and learn some of the diagnostic features so I know what to look for.

Anyway, I saw the dragonfly in Holywell Dene near Seaton Sluice, on a plant by the side of the woodland path about 50 yards from the stream. This would be about a mile to the coast at this point. I got a good long look at it through binoculars at a distance of about 8 feet, so could see detail well. The angle of view would be about 45 degrees.

I wish I'd known about the yellow edge to the forewing on Common Hawker because then I would have especially looked for it. It certainly didn't strike me as a feature but, as Harry says, I was concentrating hard on body markings and colour. A friend was with me and he didn't remark on any wing colour either.

He knows more about dragons and damsels than I do though and did notice that there was nothing like the wine glass marking on the first segments of the abdomen that would suggest Migrant.

I'm learning a lot on these threads. Cheers.
 

MH68

Well-known member
I`m in the same boat as you Graham, havent got a good ID book at present(can`t spare the cash ).What I have done though, is write a set of ID notes in my field notebook,taken from the dragonfly ID thread above this one, along with a few rough sketches showing various diagnostic features of similar species/differences between the sexes etc.It`s been sufficient so far to help ID everything i`ve seen.It also avoids having to rely on memory to ID stuff when you get home, or making extensive notes in the field.Doing something similar may be of use to you until you get a book sorted.

Mark H
 

brianfm

Botanical Birder
Hi

I was with Graham when we saw this Hawker. A Hawker will probably be as far as we get with it.

I have to say we did have very good views and I saw no sign of a Yellow Costa on the wings and think I would have had it been present.

I have seen Migrant Hawkers in the area before and thought the brown markings either just developing or disappearing on the side of the abdominal segments might be indicitive ot that species, but as Graham says there was little 'adult' colour apart from this. I saw no sign of the wine glass marking on the base of the abdomen that would be displayed by a Migrant. Would such a marking be present on a teneral or over mature adult? I am also wondering if the amber wings of a Brown Hawker would be present on tenerals or over mature adults? Books are fine I find , but don't seem to give much information as to what to look for in immatures and over matures.

Graham is over generous when he says I have more experience than he. I did think I was making progress however until we found this one!
 

MH68

Well-known member
Hi Brian, i`d have thought the wine glass marking would be present but similarly faded in a teneral or old specimen.I`m sure Harry or one of the others will confirm this either way though.I`ll be interested to hear the answer to this, and your other questions too.It`ll help fill in a few "gaps" for me also.
Agree about teneral/ageing specimens ID,most of the ID info i`ve seen is related to normal adults, i`ve only read of a few examples of age related colour variations.

Mark H
 

brianfm

Botanical Birder
Yes, they also give out useful sets of slides for anyone interested in giving lectures (altnough most people I guess are using digital equipment now). I have a set.

Like the books I have seen however, the site has good shots of male and female of each species, but not immatures and over matures which is what I find so difficult to ID.
 

level seven

Registered user
I was quite surprised when I saw this picture today of a colourless Migrant Hawker: http://www.nederpix.nl/album_page.php?pic_id=43822
No black legs or brown head though.
Bingo! The abdomen looks exactly like what I saw! My legs (as it were) might not have been a real black, the ones in the photo look quite dark, so that's not a problem. The head was definitely brown though, but apart from that it's a good match.

Thanks.

Question is, can Common or other hawkers likely to be found here (Southern?) also show these colours?

edit - just noticed Mouldy's earlier post where he says the thorax pattern I saw would rule out Southern.
 
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harry eales

Ancient Entomologist
Bingo! The abdomen looks exactly like what I saw! My legs (as it were) might not have been a real black, the ones in the photo look quite dark, so that's not a problem. The head was definitely brown though, but apart from that it's a good match.

Thanks.

Question is, can Common or other hawkers likely to be found here (Southern?) also show these colours?

edit - just noticed Mouldy's earlier post where he says the thorax pattern I saw would rule out Southern.

As a general rule of thumb, Common Hawker is more of an upland species in the NE than the Southern Hawker, the Migrant hawker tends to be seen more often nearer the coast but it does occur in the uplands.

This may be due to there being more observers in coastal areas.

Strays of all species occasionally turn up where they would not be expected.

I have seen Both Golden-ringed and Comon Hawkers in Newcastle city of all places, but they are powerful flyers, so nothing is definate as to where you may see some species.

Harry
 

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