Although Worcestershire has a good proportion of heathland in the north west of the county, there is only one location that can claim to be a lowland bog and that is at Hartlebury Common. Unfortunately over the last 100 years there have been long periods when the bog has been dry and that has meant many of the rare plants like round-leaved sundew has disappeared. In the last 35 years there have been 15 years when the bog had no surface water at all and many of those dry years were clustered together in 5 to 7 year blocks meaning creatures would find it hard to survive those prolonged periods of drought.

The weather can be cyclical and at the moment two very wet years in succession have given a glimpse of the bog as it might have been in its heyday.

In the table it can be seen that there have been 18 species recorded at the common, which is a good total but that has been over a long period and some have not been seen for years. However in 2007, Four-spotted Chaser Dragonflies were seen egg laying in the bog and this year they were actually seen emerging, something that would be impossible without permanent water throughout the year.

In September this year, a lone female Black Darter Dragonfly was spotted at the bog and this just shows that if the bog can be maintained then the insects will return to it. The two dragonflies mentioned above as well as the Common Hawker and Emerald Damselfly are four of the classic species of heathland pools.

This is the first Black Darter record for the site and bodes well if water can be retained for longer periods. Looking at the figure showing the national distribution of this species it is seen to be widespread but confined to lowland heath and moorland, and in Worcestershire there are only a small scattering of records and until now none of those are recent. Male Black Darters are easily identified as they are the only all-black small dragonfly while the females have a diagnostic black triangle on the back of the thorax.



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