Wednesday 22 May 2019

Broad-bodied Chasers

I popped at the YWT local wildlife garden after work. The staff alerted me to the presence of a Broad-bodied chaser on a patch of Red Campion. I popped out to find it there straight away. It sat on the flowers and repeatedly darted to catch an insect, only to return to the same perch, flycatcher style. It didn't have to fly far as it was warm and sunny and there were plenty of small insects about. This, one of the most spectacular of our dragonflies, is my first species for the Hull Dragons challenge! A quick walk around the pond revealed there were at least 5 individuals about, each sallying from their favoured perch hunting almost in succession. All of them had yellow abdomens, including two males, indicating that they had emerged recently, most likely from the pond in the garden. They mostly ignored one another, despite being in quite close proximity, another sign that their male territorial behaviour hadn't kicked in. Despite their amazing colour, they are quite cryptic and merge into the foliage as soon as they stop.
Immature male.
This species is still uncommon in the Hull area, with only a handful of records. As I covered in a previous post, it was unknown in south east Yorkshire before 1995, although it is becoming more widespread. It is a good colonist and one of the earliest dragonflies to breed in new ponds. The pond in the garden was re-dug in February 2016, and given that the larvae only emerge after 2 or three years it is likely that the species bred in the pond the first summer after it was refilled.
The pond being re-lined in February 2016. I will post some photos of the pond as it is now in a future post. 
A walk around the pond revealed one, possibly two Azure damselflies. It is not a very large pond, but always interesting and I have records of a good range of damselflies and dragonflies: Common Emerald, Azure Damselfly, Blue-tailed, Common Darter, Ruddy Darter, Southern Hawker and Migrant Hawker. Broad-bodied Chaser is a great addition to the list!
Another immature male. Note the white reflections on the wing indicating that this individual has emerged very recently (teneral)
An immature female, note the wider abdomen in comparison with the males.
Immature female.

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