Saturday, 29 June 2019

Dragonflies to watch for in July

In this third instalment of the series on dragonflies to watch out in and around Hull, I present four species that have their peak season in July.
9. Black-tailed Skimmer, Orthetrum cancellatum
A very distinctive dragonfly, with long narrow tapering abdomen (unlike Broad-bodied Chasers) and lacking dark marks on wing bases. Males (top shot) have a blue abdomen with black tip, females and immature are yellowish, with a ladder-like pattern (above) and green eyes. Flies from mid May to mid September, peaking in July. Likes open aspect ponds, where it likes to perch on bare ground. Fishing lake pontoons are a favoured perch (top shot). Existing records are from Oak Road Lake and Noddle Hill Lake.

10. Emperor Dragonfly, Anax imperator
This large green and blue dragonfly is spectacular. Males have a powerful patrolling flight over their territory, which includes large ponds, lakes and ditches. It flies from late May to late September, peaking mid-June to mid-August. Although a relatively recent colonist of the area records from the Hull area are widespread.
11. Emerald Damselfly, Lestes sponsa
This jewel of a damselfly perches with its wings open, unlike other damselflies. Males are green and blue (above), while females are all emerald green. Early June to end of September, peaking in July. Records in the Hull area are scarce: one each from Pearson Park Wildlife Garden, Noddle Hill, Oak Road and two from a private pond in the Avenues.

12. Brown Hawker, Aeshna grandis
A large dragonfly which can easily be identified in flight by its bronze-tinged wings. Very active, hawking high amongst trees or alongside ditches. It rarely settles. Early June to late September, peaking early July to late August. Records in the Hull area are from Oak Road Lake.

Happy dragonfly watching!

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Hull Dragons: May summary

The Hull dragons survey is well under way, and this post summarises the records from the month of May as returned from iRecord. The survey kickstarted with the first damselfly record on the 13th May, two Common Blue damselflies recorded by Richard Shillaker at St Andrews Quay. As of today, 17 records of 5 species from 6 km2 during the month of May in the Hull area. Blue-tailed and Azure (top shot) damselflies have been the most common and widespread, followed by a few Common Blue, and a single Red-eyed damselfly at Oak Road Lake spotted by Richard Shillaker. The mass emergence of Broad-Bodied Chasers at Pearson Park wildlife garden from May 22nd appears to continue. The following are a selection of photos illustrating the species found and evidence of breeding, which so far have been for Azure damselfly (pairs in copula at Pearson Park Wildlife Garden), Common Blue Damselfly (pair in tandem at Oak Road Lake) and Broad-bodied Chaser (several exuviae and a teneral maiden fly at Pearson Park Wildlife Garden).
Pearson Park Wildlife Garden has been a great place to stop by on my way back from work to check on damselflies and dragonflies. The following have all been taken there in the last week.
A just emerged likely Azure damselfly.

Emerging damselfly larvae.
Mating Azure damselflies.
Two mating Tetanocera Sciomyzid flies on a dead damselfly. Thanks to Ian Andrews for ID.
The reflecting wings of this Broad-bodied Chaser show it has just emerged. It flew from the pond into a stump and then up into the trees.
The exuvia of a Broad-bodied Chaser clinging to vegetation in the middle of the pond.
 I have visited Oak Road lake a couple of times. Blue-tailed damselflies have been plentiful.
Two blue-tailed damselflies resting in the marginal vegetation.

I have had some informal accounts of other dragonfly records, including a Four-spotted Chaser at Kingswood and a Broad-bodied Chaser at Snuff Mill Lane, but without them being entered in iRecord we can't compile them. Please send any records you get to iRecord, ideally using the taxon specific form for dragonflies. Complete lists are ideal, and if you can also add breeding details that'd be great!