Dragonfly Round-up for 2000

By Mike Averill

Weather wise, 2000 was a repeat of 1999 in that it was generally very wet. The summer months were, however, reasonably dry apart from April which was very wet. Searching for the all-important sunshine was a bit hit and miss as April, but May and August were all right, though June, July and September were fairly dull. In Worcestershire there were good reports of all the usual species and once again there was a new addition to the county list.

The Club-tailed Dragonfly showed good emergence numbers from the River Severn at Bewdley and from the Rivers Avon and Teme. The Common Hawker Aeshna juncea was again seen emerging at a site near Bayton. During a full survey at Croome Park this year, 15 species were recorded, of which ten were breeding. This is a respectable number but the hopes that something unusual would be found were not fulfilled. One species that was very strongly represented was the Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum. This dragonfly was first recorded in Worcestershire at Croome Park in 1985.

The Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum continues to increase in numbers throughout the county. Since the first records in the early 1950’s, this dragonfly has become an increasingly common sight at water bodies. They particularly favour the bare edges of new pools or gravel pits. Where there has been standing water for a couple of years at the new gravel workings near Upton-on-Severn, there are hundreds of this blue dragonfly busily skimming the surface of the water.

An unusual form of the Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea was seen along one of the rides at Monkwood. This individual had the colouring of a Common Hawker with broad yellow thoracic stripes. In addition all the dorsal abdominal spots were blue, not just the last two segments.

Nationally there were two main periods of migration, one during the hot spell in June and the second in late July. The first wave produced two species in Worcestershire, The Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombei and the Lesser Emperor Anax parthenope. The first was seen again at Kemerton and also at a new site, Pirton Pool. The numbers at Pirton were about 10 to 15 and were fortunately visible from the public footpath. The Lesser Emperor is a first for the county and was well-spotted by Steve Whitehouse - well spotted because I do not think anyone actually saw it land, however the pale blue saddle at the top of the brownish abdomen plus the green eyes confirmed it. The increase in the occurrence of this species nationally is remarkable, considering there were only a handful of records prior to 1996. Interestingly there was a record of this species on Orkney which constitutes the most northerly record of this southern European dragonfly.

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