Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Hull Dragons 2020: June summary

June has been a much more variable month than the dry and sunny May, with some rain, storms, more windy and more cloud. There were some good days for dragonfly watching, including a heat wave on the 3rd week, when temperatures reached 29°C in Hull. A total of 142 records of 13 species have been submitted during the month by 11 contributors. Foredyke Green Pond and East Park, with 7 species each, were the best sites in number of species. The only species recorded in May with no June records is the Large Red Damselfly. The Red-eyed Damselfly, Black-tailed Skimmer and Southern Hawker were added to the year list. An unidentified darter was recorded on the 25th June. 

My June odonate highlights
  • Watching a female Hairy Dragonfly coming to the shore by my feet at Noddle Hill fishing lake and start ovipositing on a dead branch was my highlight of the month. She moved on pretty fast before I could set the camera on her. As far as I know, this is the first time the species has been recorded ovipositing in the Hull area. 
  • Spotting a Red-eyed Damselfly at Foredyke Green, a new location for the species. 
  • At Ennerdale South Pond there was a strong damselfly emergence on the 2nd June. House Sparrows were feeding on them, sometime as I disturbed them and they flew up. As I watched and followed a female Banded Demoiselle by the river Hull, a house sparrow chased her and captured her!
  • Watching an ovipositing Broad-bodied chaser at Foredyke Green Pond.
  • Watching an Emperor and Hairy Dragonfly males patrolling and hunting on a stretch of the Beverley and Barmston drain, occasionally clashing.
  • As I was examining an emperor exuviae, I was surprised to see it moving, and a lodger emerged: a Larinioides cornutus spider! I had never seen spiders using dragonfly exuviae as retreats.
June species and breeding evidence

Southern Hawker. First and only record so far on the 26th June.
An emperor dragonfly resting briefly on plants near Foredyke Green pond.
Emperor Dragonfly. 13 records. Exuviae found at Foredyke Green Pond and Ennerdale South Pond.
Hairy Dragonfly. 2 records, with ovipositing female at Noddle Hill Lake.

Banded Demoiselle. 4 records from the 2nd June from River Hull, Ennerdale S Pond and Cottingham. Several records from Wawne.

Azure Damselfly. 30 records. Teneral at Beverley and Barmston Drain and Setting Dike. Oviposition noted at Pearson Park and Beverley and Barmston Drain.
Common Blue Damselfly. 19 records. Tenerals at Ennerdale S Pond. Mating pairs at Foredyke Green Pond and Ennerdale Pond.
Red-eyed Damselfly. Four records from four sites, the first on the 1st of June. They include a new site for the species, Foredyke Green Pond.
Female Blue-tailed Damselfly with Arrenurus mites (17th June).
Male Blue-tailed Damselfly with mites. Both at Foredyke Green pond (14th June). These are parasitic mites that feed on the host blood and drop to water once the host comes to mate to water. 
Blue-tailed Damselflies mating.
Blue-tailed Damselfly.
Blue-tailed Damselfly. 33 records, the most commonly recorded species. Tenerals were found at Oak Road, Ennerdale S Pond and Setting Dyke, oviposition was recorded at Beverley and Barmston Drain and Noddle Hill Lake.
Broad-bodied Chaser. 5 records. Oviposition at Foredyke Green Pond, where the photo above was taken.
Four-spotted Chaser. 12 records from 5 sites, including individuals emerging in a private garden.
Black-tailed Skimmer. 8 records from 6 sites, the first of the year on the 2nd June. A female was seen ovipositing at Snuff Mill Lane.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Pirate wolf spiders in retreat

This afternoon I walked to local pond in search of dragonflies. Only Azure damselflies were active, half a dozen males bobbing about searching for females on the pond edge, a pair mating. As I looked for exuviae on the plant leaves, I noticed two female Pirate wolf spiders, possibly Pirata piraticus, in silky retreats at the base of branched burr-reed leaves, both carrying their bright white egg sacs. Apparently, unlike other wolf spiders, they build silky tubes, sometimes partially submerged, from where they hunt passing insects.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Hull Dragons 2020: May summary

We are running a Hull and surrounding area dragonfly and damselfly survey (Hull Dragons for short) in 2020, for comparison to 2019. I will post a monthly summary of the progress. This year is starting quite strong. The first flying Odonata weren't seen until the 2nd week of May. During May, 60 records have been submitted to iRecord, from 9 species this year (compared to 23 records of 6 species recorded during the same time period in May). The increased number of records and species might be due to the favourable weather during the spring: we've had the sunniest spring and warmest May on record. This has not only provided ideal conditions for dragonfly watching, but might have also speeded up emergence. For example, the Emperor dragonfly records this year are almost three weeks earlier than in 2019.
My first Odonata record was on the 13th May, when while working on my desk by my front bay window a dragonfly, most likely a broad-bodied chaser, flew past. A tandem pair of blue damselflies was observed at St Andrews Quay pond on the 21st. Broad-bodied chaser are having a good year, with 4 records from 3 locations. The most common records were from Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies. A very exciting record is that of a Large Red Damselfly at an ornamental pond in Willerby on the 25th May, given that we had no records for this species last year.
Finally, a Hairy Dragonfly was a very nice addition to the May list, on the Beverley and Barmston drain on the 31st.

First dates (as in adult identified species in iRecord submitted by 1st June 2020):
  1. Blue-tailed Damselfly, 20th May
  2. Azure Damselfly, 20th May
  3. Banded Demoiselle, 23rd May
  4. Broad-bodied Chaser, 25th May
  5. Large Red Damselfly, 25th May
  6. Four-spotted Chaser, 21st May, Paull Holme Strays 
  7. Common Blue Damselfly, 29th May
  8. Emperor Dragonfly, 29th May
  9. Hairy Dragonfly, 31s May