11 Jul 2014

11 July 14 - Dragonfly Bonanza At Arne

The sharp eyed of you might have spotted this post has changed title. Originally, it referred to a Red-veined Darter in the title, but it can no longer do so, given the Darter photographed was a Common Darter. Rather than into the reasons why here, I have just corrected this post. But I will be publishing another post in the near future on the pitfalls of Red-veined Darter and Common Darter separation.

My mate, Brian Field, was up from Cornwall for the day to look for the Swallowtails. However, before heading out to look for the Swallowtails, I had planned a day of birding & wildlife photography to showcase some of my local patches. Before we even left the house, there was the first chance for some photography when I had a look at my large pond.
Southern Hawker: Just emerging from its larva case & still pumping its wings up. They are erratically seen around the garden. But it looks like they are fairly common in the pond, as there were 3 empty cases on the Iris and there are a number of similar sized larva in the pond
The first stop was an early visit to Middlebere to catch the rising tide. A few returning Waders including the first 2 Green Sandpipers, a Greenshank, 5 Dunlin & 124 Black-tailed Godwits, but no sign of the Spoonbills today. We moved swiftly on to Arne to look for Dragonflies. As we walked out to the Dragonfly ponds near the Shipstal hide, we heard the first returning Whimbrel for the Autumn. A couple were later seen from the hide. But the main reason for the visit was to look for Dragonflies & here we were not disappointed. Walking out to the Dragonfly ponds was our first Arne Dragonfly: another Southern Hawker.
Southern Hawker: Separating the Hawkers isn't easy until they perch up. This is a Southern as the pale blue on final 2 segments of the abdomen form a solid across the segment. Common Hawker & Migrant Hawker (the other 2 most likely contendors in Dorset), both have the same double semi-circular markings as on the rest of the abdomen segments
This was the interesting Darter which I mistood to be a Red-veined Darter. It is just a well marked young male Common Darter.
Common Darter: Young Male Still not fully mature as the abdomen can get a brighter red
Common Darter
There was a good selection of other Dragonfly species around the ponds. In total, we saw 12 species at Arne: Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker, Emperor Dragonfly, Keeled Skimmer, Four-spotted Chaser, Common Darter, Emerald Damselfly, Red-eyed Damselfly, Large Red Damselfly, Small Red Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly & Azure Damselfly. That's pretty good, given there are only 29 regular Dragonflies & Damselflies in Dorset (excluding a few vagrant species). The Red-eyed Damselflies were a highlight for me as I didn't realise they occurred here. Unfortunately, I failed to get any photos of them. Given the number of species present, I was trying to focus on photographing species that haven't yet appeared on this blog.
Four-spotted Chaser
Common Darter: Note, the dark pterostigma & the diagnostic 2 yellow bands on the thorax. Another not fully mature Dragonfly: the abdomen will get a more uniform red colouration in time
Emerald Damselfly: There are three other uncommon Emerald damselflies that have fairly recently established themselves in Kent & East Anglia, but currently this is the only species in Dorset. This is still not fully mature, but it is possible to see that there is pale blue on the first & second segments of the abdomen (in time the green centre of the second segment will turn blue). The similar looking Scarce Emerald has pale blue only on the first & the top half of the second segment
Small Red Damselfly: Male. This is a smaller & weaker species than the Large Red Damselfly. The all red abdomen indicates it's a Male Small Red Damselfly & the red legs also confirm the identification (Large Red Damselflies have black legs)