Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dragonflies, counting up 2012

I am counting up the odonate species from the spring to autumn season of 2012 today. I must say I feel a little cheated as one of the best photo shoots I had recently was trapped on my camera when unfortunately it got stolen. That took care of four spotted chaser and emperor dragonfly which I had with great care and patience managed to approach. Grumbling aside, I did rather better with damselflies then dragonflies.

1. Banded demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) 
From my trip to Carlow I found these beauties clinging to the reeds everywhere by the river. Stunning and a delight are terms I would gladly use for this species. I also found some right in the city centre but couldn’t approach them.

2. Beautiful demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) 
Considerably harder to approach due to its habit of flying to a nearby tree top when interrupted. Perseverance got me some alright shots though I feel with more time I could have done better.

3. Large red damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) 
Another new one for me this year. The large red damselfly does exactly what it sais on the tin and is rather easy to identify given that it’s the only red species in Ireland.

4. Azure damselfly (Coenagrion puella) 
One of Ireland’s several blue species; the azure can be distinguished most easily by the markings at the base of its tail. This is the blue I encountered most often this year.

5. Common blue damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) 
Much like the above species but again with different markings, the common blue has a different less azure shade (obviously I suppose). My main sight for them is Blarney castle gardens.

6. Blue tailed damselfly (Ischnura elegans) 
Another blue damselfly; this one is not however in the same family and can quite clearly be told apart by its mostly black abdomen which has a bright blue end. Sometimes in flight this delicate creature looks like its carrying a tiny blue light on its tail.

7. Emerald damselfly (Lestes sponsa)
I really wanted to see one of these and after considerable late season searching one is what I got, in the shade with overcast skies, because of this the colours of this species don’t really show in this shot.

8. Emperor dragonfly (Anax imperator) 
Large and impressive species that has moved into Irish parts only recently but is now relatively easy to find. The below shot was meant as a preview of the pictures to come on facebook but now stand as my only emperor pic this year.

9. Migrant hawker (Aeshna mixta) 
Like its name suggests this hawker is migratory and like the emperor it is pretty new in Ireland. It seems to be more approachable then its cousins the common and brown hawkers.

10. Common darter (Sympetrum striolatum) 
My most photographed dragonfly, the common darter appears late in the season but is quite plentiful in places.

Other species I spotted but did not manage to photograph where ruddy darter, black darter, red veined darter, common hawker, brown hawker (likely) & four spotted chaser. Until summer 2013 then for these guys!


  1. Some stunning shots there Leon - maybe next year you can hedjumicate me in the ways of the Odonata.

  2. Thanks Floss. yup be glad to show you what I know. Its nowhere near as hard as gull aging and identification, doing my head in!


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