Dragonflies in Worcestershire 2013
It seemed like a very long cold winter this year (2012-2013) and the lateness of any dragonfly records reflected this. Following a cold start in January and February, March was one of the coldest months since the 1960’s. Relentlessly the cold weather continued into April and then finally temperatures began struggle in to double figures in the third week of that month. Just as some species were beginning to appear it turned cooler again for a couple of weeks in mid May, only perking up at the end of the month. In terms of dragonfly emergences, this had a dramatic effect delaying all species by between one and six weeks compared to the earliest times in 2008-2012 (Table 1), except for the Small Red-eyed Damselfly which emerges later in the year anyway.
In terms of individual species, all the regular species were seen plus an occasional uncommon one: the Red-veined Darter which was seen at Grimley but not at its usual location at Pirton. The Club-tailed Dragonfly was 17 days late to emerge and the numbers counted were somewhat lower so perhaps some individuals will have delayed their emergence until next year. This can happen with a species that has a synchronised emergence because it is important for all the males and females to emerge together. This is particularly vital for a species like this that disperses widely after emergence. The Beautiful Demoiselle seems to expand its range each year appearing in more locations on the River Severn and even at Yardley near the River Cole. Croome Court had less Small-red Eyed Damselflies than last year but the same species was also seen at Lower Smite Farm. The fact that this species wasn’t late emerging compared to other years may be explained by the fact that it normally emerges later in the summer and so would have had time to recover from the early cold spell. The Four-spotted Chaser tends to pop up in more locations than it used to so it was nice to have proven breeding reports from Penny Hill, near Martley.
The unexpected arrival of the Scarce Chaser at Hillditch Pool, Hartlebury in 2012 gave rise to the possibility of a breeding colony there and so it was with excitement that the first larval cases were found in June this year. Whether such a small group will be self sustaining will make an interesting case study.
Dragonflies attracted to moth traps are not all that common and certainly not as common as in the United States where warm evenings and crepuscular activity often leads to dragonflies being drawn to light. In Worcestershire we had two instances via Val Weston this year: a Brown Hawker in Acocks Green and a Common Darter at Monkwood. This is nothing to do with feeding of course, merely the response to light in the way that birds and other day flying insects are attracted to lighthouses or ships lights.
For those who are eagerly awaiting the new national Dragonfly Atlas, the launch date will be May 2014 and a pre publication offer can be found at: http://www.field-studies-council.org/publications/pubs/atlas-of-dragonflies-in-britain-and-ireland.aspx
|Common Name||Scientific Name||Earliest sighting 2008-12||Earliest sighting 2013||Days later than 2008-12|
|Large Red Damselfly||Pyrrhosoma nymphula||09/04/2011||04/05/2013||25|
|Beautiful Demoiselle||Calopteryx virgo||23/04/2011||22/05/2013||29|
|Blue-tailed Damselfly||Ischnura elegans||23/04/2011||22/05/2013||29|
|Common Blue Damselfly||Enallagma cyathigerum||23/04/2011||13/05/2013||20|
|Azure Damselfly||Coenagrion puella||24/04/2009||25/05/2013||31|
|Banded Demoiselle||Calopteryx splendens||26/04/2011||25/05/2013||29|
|Red-eyed Damselfly||Erythromma najas||26/04/2011||22/05/2013||26|
|Broad-bodied Chaser||Libellula depressa||26/04/2011||01/06/2013||36|
|Four-spotted Chaser||Libellula quadrimaculata||02/05/2011||31/05/2013||29|
|Common Club-tail||Gomphus vulgatissimus||03/05/2011||20/05/2013||17|
|Hairy Dragonfly||Brachytron pratense||05/05/2011||Not Seen|
|White-legged Damselfly||Platycnemis pennipes||08/05/2009||03/06/2013||26|
|Black-tailed Skimmer||Orthetrum cancellatum||08/05/2011||04/06/2013||26|
|Southern Hawker||Aeshna cyanea||14/05/2012||29/06/2013||46|
|Scarce Chaser||Libellula fulva||22/05/2011||09/06/2013||18|
|Brown Hawker||Aeshna grandis||24/05/2009||30/06/2013||34|
|Emperor Dragonfly||Anax imperator||30/05/2008||08/06/2013||8|
|Common Darter||Sympetrum striolatum||30/05/2008||30/06/2013||30|
|Red-veined Darter||Sympetrum fonscolombii||31/05/2009||17/06/2013||Migrant|
|Golden-ringed Dragonfly||Cordulegaster boltonii||09/06/2012||12/07/2013||1 record|
|Emerald Damselfly||Lestes sponsa||15/06/2011||29/06/2013||14|
|Ruddy Darter||Sympetrum sanguineum||16/06/2010||09/07/2013||23|
|Common Hawker||Aeshna juncea||26/06/2010||Not Seen|
|Lesser Emperor||Anax parthenope||07/07/2011||Not Seen|
|Small Red-eyed Damselfly||Erythromma viridulum||11/07/2011||14/07/2013||3|
|Migrant Hawker||Aeshna mixta||22/07/2009||07/08/2013||16|
|Black Darter||Sympetrum danae||12/09/2009||Not Seen|
Table 1. Dragonfly emergence dates. 2008-2012 compared with 2013.