21 Jul 2018

21 Jul 18 - Mediterranean Migrants

Having spent a few hours sorting a backlog of recent UK photos for the Blog, I checked Twitter to see if there had been any interesting wildlife sightings while I had been sorting my photos. A post from local Birder Ian Ballam about a Dragonfly he had photographed at Lytchett Bay (at the other end of Poole Harbour) caught my attention. Ian is out locally most days & this year has been doing a Dragonfly photographic Year List. The photo was clearly not up to Ian's normal standard, was quite some distance away & blurry. Ian asked whether this side-on shot was a Southern Migrant Hawker. Looking at it there were large blue eyes (which looked good), a green thorax & a blue & black abdomen. Potentially yes was my immediate thought. I checked a few photos on the UK Dragonflies website to double check how to rule out the other Hawkers & Emperor Dragonfly. Each were quickly eliminated & I thought I could see thin black vertical lines on the green thorax, but that was just a bit too tricky given the poor quality of the photo. However, it was good enough to think I would need to visit Lyttle-shit Bay (you may gather it's not my favourite part of Poole Harbour). A couple of phone calls with Ian confirmed that Nick Hull, who is another LB patch watcher, had joined Ian. They had now got decent photographs & confirmed the id. My suspicions have now been confirmed that this is a county first. However, they have been breeding in Kent & Essex for at just over a decade since initial sightings in 2006, following a single 20th Century sighting. There have been sightings in the last couple of weeks in Hants & Somerset, which may also be county firsts. Therefore, it's a species that was on the cards for being found this year in Dorset given the warm weather. I had no choice but to grab the camera & head off in the heat (the car thermostat was recording it was the upper twenties outside).
Southern Migrant Hawker: Male. They are superficially similar to male Migrant Hawkers, but have vivid blue eyes & blue colouration on segment two
Southern Migrant Hawker: Male. Segment two
Southern Migrant Hawker: Male. This individual only landed twice in the hour I was there. It frequently got into territorial aerial fights with another male that was also flying around the same nearly dried up pond. There was also one (& occasionally two) individuals on a second dried up pond nearby. No females were seen while I was there, but a probable female was briefly seen the following day
Southern Migrant Hawker: Male
Southern Migrant Hawker: Male. Another feature is the blue-green sides of the thorax with thin vertical black lines
Migrant Hawker: Male for comparison. Note, the full greyish eyes & overall darker blue colouration
Migrant Hawker: Male. Close up of segment two
Migrant Hawker: Male. Note, the broad pale stripes on the side of the thorax
This was my 35th species of Dragonfly in Dorset.
A happy Ian Ballam: Enjoying having a bonus Dragonfly for his Year List as Ian doesn't tend to travel far from Dorset