Worcestershire Record No. 21 April 2007 p. 42


Mike Averill

Long hot sunny days may not be good for gardens and water features but if pools can hold their levels there is every chance of an excellent dragonfly season. 2006 was such a year with new species establishing themselves, regular species maintaining their numbers and even an entirely new species to add to the list. Twenty four of the twenty eight species now recorded were seen in Worcestershire this year.

Many of the long standing species were able to expand their range such as the Beautiful Damselfly Calopteryx virgo while the Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma najas did well and was found at quite number of new locations along the River Avon.

One of the key species for Worcestershire, the Club-tailed Dragonfly Gomphus vulgatissimus had a slightly better year at Bewdley, where the emergence rate was double that of last year. This is good news as the emergence rate in the previous 5 years had been very poor.

The Scarce Chaser Libellula fulva confirmed its status as a breeding species by being found at all the previous locations along the Avon but in addition two interesting singletons were seen at Wilden and Bewdley showing that this insect can travel quite a way after emergence which has not been the accepted knowledge in the past. One of our newest arrivals, the Lesser Emperor Anax parthenope, was seen again on two occasions at the same previous location at Kemerton Reserve. This site continues to be a very important site in a county context and one lucky observer saw the Club-tailed Dragonfly, Lesser Emperor, Red-veined Darter and Scarce Chaser there on the same day!

Other than Kemerton, other sites recording the Red-veined Darters were Pirton, Hill Court Farm the new Worcestershire Wildlife Trust Reserve, Grimley gravel pit and Ryall gravel pit.

Ryall proved to be the site this year though, because not only did it provide a new breeding site for the Red-veined Darter, but it enabled Gavin Peplow to find the first county record of the Small Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma viridulum. Reports of the spread of this damselfly from Essex over the last six years had alerted us to the fact that it would certainly arrive one day. Interestingly the shallow pools where it was found had a great deal of Water Milfoil, the plant very much associated with this species. The original record was on the 12th August so it appears a bit later than the very similar species the Red-eyed damselfly. It did not stay very long however, and the original eight individuals had dwindled to only one by the 20th August. They were observed in tandem, however, so it will be interesting to see how the insect fares next year. Likely places to find this damselfly are definitely gravel pits.

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