Thursday, 4 September 2014

Dragonfly diaries...

All wild animals have equal beauty and fascination but I must admit I do have a soft spot for dragonflies. Their vibrant colours and prehistoric history, along with their avian skills and predatory instincts are the main reasons why I stop in admiration everytime I encounter one. 
Again I have had limited opportunities to search for them this summer due to work commitments but here is the dates and records, when I focussed directly on dragonfly/damselfly observations...

Male common hawker
Female common hawker
My first field session was on June 24th covering local grounds around Tobermory. The habitat was bog and marshland around a young conifer plantation and I was rewarded with a four-spotted chaser, 5 golden ringed dragonflies, 6 large red damselfly and 5 common blue damselfly. The four-spotted chaser had very shiny wings so could well have been a new emergent (teneral). Two hours field time from 12noon - 2pm with sunny spells at about 18 degrees.

July was very busy work wise but I managed a few trips out in August starting with a day on the isle of Ulva on the 14th. My first record was a male black darter basking on the track and shortly after it a female common hawker on the wing. A male and a female common hawker followed it along with a large red damselfly. (16 degrees, overcast).

On the 24th August a day off in the sunshine as I headed down to Carsiag on the south coast of the island to cover the wildlife along that stretch from 1pm - 6pm. The first record was a dead female azure hawker on the path which is a nice record for the isle as far as I know. Other records on the day were golden-ringed, common hawker (m) and common darker (m). It was an amazing sight at about 5pm to see a common hawker in hunting mode in pursuit of flies on the wing and the speed and agility was just sensational as it caught its food source with minimum effort. (20 degrees, sunshine).

Male common hawker choosing my leg as a basking site
31st of the month and I headed down to Glengorm estate to persevere around the marshland and small ponds which provides excellent potential habitat for certain dragonflies species. I sat on a banking nearby with a bit of height and covered the expanse of marshland which was around 200 yards by a hundred yards in size. A two hour shift from 12 - 2pm rewarded me with 30 plus common darters, 18 males and 12 females. There was a lot of copulating observed with the animals in the 'wheel' position. One male common darter chose to bask on my leg and kept lifting off to chase off same species intruders before returning to the exact position on my leg over ten times. Other records were 2 black darters (m and f), 3 common hawkers and a single golden-ringed dragonflies. (18 degrees sunny spells).

A couple of trips to the south side of the island in early September rewarded me with good numbers of common hawkers very active in hunting mode. On the 7th I recorded eighteen individuals and on the 10th I recorded six. 

I have sent all these records to the BSC (British Dragonfly Society) to contribute to their ongoing sightings database - http://www.british-dragonflies.org.uk/.

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