16 May 2023

16 May 23 - A Spring Red-veined Darter

The weather looked promising for some late Spring migrants at my St Aldhelms patch, but in the end there was little around. A single Spotted Flycatcher at the top of Pier Bottom and small numbers of all three common Hirundines arriving were the highlights as I left Trev's Quarry & headed towards the head.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw was a flash of a red Dragonfly, but that was all I saw before it disappeared off the main track. It was too brief to even decide whether it was a Dragonfly or Damselfly. The only red species flying at the moment is likely to be a Large Red Damselfly, but that is a species I've not seen at St Aldhelms. It was too brief a view to do anything with it, other than to feel frustrated by the poor sighting. I carried on a bit further, before deciding I might as well knock the Birding on the head. Fortunately, the Dragonfly had returned to the main track & I saw it fly again, but it quickly drop back onto the track. It was clearly a Darter. As I raised the camera, my mind was considering the options: it was a couple of months before either the first Common Darters or Ruddy Darters would be on the wing. Common Darters occur at St Aldhelms, whereas it would also be the wrong habitat for a Ruddy Darter. That left a migrant Red-veined Darter as the most likely candidate. I needed to get some photos.
Red-veined Darter: This my first Red-veined Darter that I've seen within 10 miles of the house: a list I'm particularly keen on as it highlights my local wildlife sightings
Red-veined Darter: A close up of the head & wings
After grabbing a few photos, it was time to check them to confirm the ID features. One of the bonuses of carrying a camera is it is often easier to zoom in to check the ID features on the photos, than it is to get close enough to see these features in the field. I could see the dark bordered pale pterostigma near the wing tips and the black marks on the abdomen. I could just about make out the facial pattern showing the blue-grey lower face & the white edges to the frons, as well as, the red veins. All these features confirms it was a Red-veined Darter: a nice migrant for St Aldhelms. I tried to get a couple of feet closer, but it saw the movement & disappeared back into the field & out of sight.
Red-veined Darter at Longham: Here is a better photo of a Red-veined Darter at Longham for comparison (30 Jun 19)