• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Odonata ID help and general advise needed - Zwillbrocker Venn, Germany (1 Viewer)


Well-known member

visited the Zwillbrocker Venn (western Germany, directly to the Dutch border) yesterday to watch the the little colony of Greater and Chilean Flamigos (btw: quite successful breeding for both species this year). I also took a couple of photos of dragonflies. Not sure with the IDs. Would be nice if someone could confirm or correct. Both seem to have black legs which narrows down the possible species.

First one I think is a Common Darter.
F6A52BC9-1DCC-40EA-98B5-EBB526AEF68F.jpeg B3B75785-9039-4C85-9903-85B56F49CD3B.jpeg 5FB4D703-61C5-4F34-9A61-4806E791C32B.jpeg 042FF35C-546A-43A0-A8CD-32E27D25FACB.jpeg

Second one maybe Ruddy Darter?

Also there were a lot of other large species constantly flying over the lake without ever landing (at least I never noticed). Any tips on taking pictures of those? Do you just wait till they finally land? I tried focusing on one and figure out the flight pattern and hope for it land somewhere or take a picture while hovering. Didn‘t work too well. Do I just need to be more patient?

Thank you.


Ruddy Darter is correct. The first one must be Vagrant Darter (don't get fooled by the English name: in German it isn't called Gemeine Heidelibelle without reason), as it shows an obvious moustache in the first picture.

The large ones may be mostly Southern Hawker, Common Hawker and Blue Emperor: lots of patience required or a good camera and skill (all lacking in my case)...

Swindon Addick

Registered User
For the ones that refuse to perch, I normally watch the flight pattern for a bit, identify an area where it's hovering reasonably frequently, manually focus the camera on that area and just fire off shots whenever it wanders into view. The larger ones are mostly sufficiently distinctive that you can get an ID with a photo that's not very sharp.

Your Vagrant Darter would be an exception - needs a good sharp image from the right angle to see how far the black marking on the face extends. In the UK we use "Common Darter" for Sympetrum striolatum, and "Vagrant Darter" for S. vulgatum. That just reflects that one is very common and the other extremely rare here.


Paul Winter
The first one (in flight) is a female Ruddy Darter - a mature one that has got some red colouring. Attached your 1st image with the annotation. The side panel on the thorax also fits Ruddy Darter rather than Vagrant Darter but that is a pretty subtle thing.


  • david_ruddy_1.jpeg
    475.2 KB · Views: 8


Paul Winter
It might be worth bearing in mind that for Sympetrum species in mainland europe west of Instanbul

Those with black down the sides of the frons (to a noticeable but variable extent) are

danae (Black Darter)
depressiusculum (Spotted Darter)
flaveolum (Yellow-winged Darter)
fonscolombii (Red-veined Darter)
pedemontanum (Banded Darter)
sanguineum (Ruddy Darter)
sinaiticum (Desert Darter)
striolatum ssp. nigrescens (Highland Darter)
vulgatum (Moustached Darter)

Sympetrum species without black down the sides of the frons are

meridionale (Southern Darter)
striolatum ssp. striolatum (Common Darter)

Hope that helps

Users who are viewing this thread