Tuesday 23 April 2019

Hull Dragons: recording the damselflies and dragonflies of the city of Hull

Following on my project last year Yorkshire Dragonfly Quest 2018, with the aim of observing all the breeding species of Yorkshire dragonflies, this year I'm spearheading a collaborative, citizen science project to document the presence, distribution and evidence of breeding for dragonflies in the city of Hull and surrounding areas, which I set up with the help of Dick Shillaker, of Hull Natural History Society and Yorkshire Branch of the British Dragonfly Society.
If you live in Hull or surrounding area (i.e. from the Humber Bridge in the west to Paull Haven in the East and from the Humber boundary to the villages of Skidby, Cottingham, Wawne and Bilton) and either know or would like to find our more about dragonflies and collaborate in this challenge, you are most welcome to join the challenge.
Temporary pond at Snuff Mill Lane
Dragonflies and damselflies in Hull
I've always been impressed by the variety of wetlands and ponds (including temporary and permanent, large and small), ditches and drains found at Hull. This is mirrored on a good diversity of dragonflies and damselflies, with two sites (Oak Road Lake and Noddle Hill Local Nature Reserve) highlighted as priority sites for dragonflies in Yorkshire (over 8 breeding species, see here). Records of 17 species are available, including the recently established and still expanding Small Red-eyed Damselfly (found at East Park in 2018), Hairy Dragonfly (found at Oak Road Lake in 2018) and Vagrant Emperor at a Hessle garden in 2015 and an old record (1836), of a Vagrant Darter in the city.
Hairy Dragonfly feeding on Harlequin Ladybird, Oak Road, 2018.
Why record?
Not all these records are of breeding populations, and dragonfly species are in a state of flux due to their sensitivity to increasing temperatures, so the data collected is important to document abundance and distribution trends, also with a view of contributing to the State of Dragonflies Report of 2020.
Broad-bodied chaser at Snuff Mill Lane, 2018.
What the challenge involves
To contribute, you need to chose one or more sites which you are able to visit, in the spirit of 'adopt a site' of the British Dragonfly Society. For each chosen site (see below) you need to commit to at least two visits during the peak dragonfly season (May to September). An early visit in May-June and a late visit in July-August would be ideal minimally. During each visit, you need to make a complete list of all species observed, numbers (estimates are fine) and evidence of breeding (check out the guidelines from the British Dragonfly society). Once you have your data you will need to input it in iRecord using the available BDS dragonfly form. The data will follow the usual verification process so if you took photographs please upload them with your records.

If you would like to contribute please let me know via e-mail (a.gomez@hull.ac.uk). In particular, let me know if you have a preference for one or more particular sites so that we can make sure we cover as many sites as possible.

As part of this project, and here at BugBlog, I will cover in several blog posts what species to look for when and where and interesting aspects of the natural history and behaviour of the dragonflies and damselflies of the city of Hull.

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