Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Dragonflies to watch for in August

In this fourth and last instalment of the series on dragonflies to watch out in and around Hull I present five species that have their peak flight season in August.
13. Southern Hawker, Aeshna cyanea. A large and colourful dragonfly which is hard to miss, as it likes to hawk low on shaded paths. It has a peculiar behaviour consisting in approaching people as if it was curious and was checking you out! It starts to emerge in mid-June and flies until late October, with a long peak from mid July to early September.
15. Ruddy Darter, Sympetrum striolatum. A small, compact dragonfly. Legs are black in both sexes (unlike Common Darter, see below). Males are blood-red and there is no yellow band on side of the thorax, which is reddish brown. It flies from mid June to early October. Peaks in July-August.
16. Small red-eyed damselfly, Eryhthroma viridulum. A small damselfly with red-eyed males. Close examination or photos are ideal for identification, as it differs in the pattern of blue in the tail from the closely related Red-eyed Damselfly. Short and late flight season from mid July to early September, peaking in mid August. Known from Oak Road Lake and East Park. Recent colonist, increasing its range so there is potential to discover new sites.
13. Migrant Hawker, Aeshna mixta. The first individuals tend to appear in the last week of July. Peaks end of August and has a long season, extending until November if weather is mild. It has a long immature stage and wandering habits away from water, which means that it is a species easy to record even in pond-less gardens. It hunts at tree canopy level. Smaller than other hawkers in the area. Individuals can hunt in small parties, with no signs of aggression, often resting near each other, hanging from their perches.
14. Common Darter, Sympetrum striolatum. The commonest darter in our area. They have a yellow stripe alongside each leg and yellow panels on the side of the thorax. Eyes are green or red on top and yellow below. Males are orange-red (above) with two yellow panels on the side of the thorax. Females have an all yellow side of thorax (below). Late and long season, from June until November, peaking at the end of August.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Hull Dragons: June summary

This month we've had mostly cool, breezy and unstable weather with plenty of rain, which perked up in the last few days, when it was very hot. Sunny days (better: spells!) were few, short and far between, not ideal for planning dragonfly surveys. Despite this, sightings have slowly built up and overall, eleven species have been recorded from 17 km2 in the city and surroundings. To the five species seen in May (Broad-bodied Chaser, Azure Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly and Red-eyed Damselfly) we have added six more: Banded Demoiselle, Four-spotted Chaser, Emperor Dragonfly, Black-tailed Skimmer, Ruddy Darter and Emerald Damselfly. These are only including the records submitted to iRecord: I'm hoping to obtain the dragonfly records submitted to the BTO through their popular Birdtrack app, later in the year. So far there are 103 records submitted to iRecord.

Banded Demoiselle
A total of 5 Banded Demoiselle individuals (top, male just by Oak Road Lake) have been sighted from four km squares in the River Hull between Clough Rd and the northern boundary of the city. This species is becoming common upstream, between Tickton and High Eske, and has been a very nice unexpected addition to Hull Dragons. The only previous record of this species in the city boundary was of Noddle Hill in 2015, submitted by Jen Woollin.
Red-eyed Damselfly
The Red-eyed Damselfly has been recorded from three sites this year: Oak Road Lake, Noddle Hill and East Park. I believe the East Park is a new site for the species, although there is no evidence of breeding there as yet.
Black-tailed Skimmer
Thank you to Andrew Chadwick for submitting this record from his garden, the first recorded Black-tailed skimmer of the year for Hull Dragons.

Emerging Broad-bodied chasers
It was worth keeping a close eye on the Pearson Park wildlife Garden.
Freshly emerged Broad-bodied chaser, 23/6/2019, 9:47am.

In the wider area...
There has been an influx of Vagrant Emperors, Anax ephippiger on the east coast, with records at Spurn, Flamborough and Donna Nook, so well worth keeping our eyes open for what may come our way!