Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dragonflies update

At this point I seem to be updating the blog at a rate of once a month. Apologies to any avid followers ;). It’s certainly not due to a lack of interest but rather a lack of time. The logical thing to do at this point is to make the effort to make at least one update a week. Will see how it goes.

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)
In my last post I said I would wait to get some common darter shots as they hadn’t emerged en masse yet. Indeed they are now in all the usual spots.
A female showing the yellow lined legs that help distinguish common from ruddy. Its usually the first thing I look for when I encounter a darter. Red veined darter shares the yellow on legs but is much rarer.

A male out in little island. It took a while but I managed to get this one with tripod and my 135mm lens

I can't be a 100 per cent that this is a common because yellow on legs isn't visible, abdomen looks slightly waisted, has a uniform brown abdomen and its quite bright. This could imply ruddy. Still its most likely a common as all the nearby insects where common and there seems to be a hint of orange on the abdomen.

Face to face on a rainy day

Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)
I also had the pleasure of visiting Lough Aderry which is one of Cork’s few sites for black tailed skimmer. This dragonfly proved to be one of the most approachable species this year. It likes stony surfaces and indeed most of them where sitting on the walls right by the car park. I may have looked somewhat peculiar to passersby hanging upside down off the edge, but it was worth it! A week or two later I spotted two in the Gearagh in Macroom as well. This seems to be a new location for them It seems doubtful that they where fully established and breeding there but I don't know enough about this species to say with any certainty. 

A mating pair. The female looks quite similar to a four spot chaser in flight but the male stands out

A nice looking insect, and quite aproachable

Black Darter (Sympetrum danae). 
This is mainly a bog-land species that can be quite difficult to find in this part of the country. I was delighted therefore to encounter one this morning. I thought it could well be a ruddy female until I got home but the black pterostigma and the abdominal+thorax pattern perfectly match black darter female.
The male is almost completely black. I hope to photograph one in the coming weeks.

Black pterostigma, black legs, more black on thorax then a ruddy female and black abdominal underparts identify this as a female black darter.

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum)
This is a species I have been looking out for all summer. Having checked hundreds of common darters at this point I finally found a few today and I must say it is quite a stunning dragonfly. Its one of those species where you’re not quite sure you will be able to tell it apart from similar species but I could tell once I got a good look at it. 

Black legs, saffron patches at wing bases, deep red eyes and waisted appearance make this a ruddy darter male.

Ruddy’s seem to have a notable preference for sitting on plants and shrubs whereas male common darters like to be at ground level. That said female common darters also seem to have a preference for sitting on vegetation. Not sure if these traits are universal.

Face to face. The ‘sunburnt’ face is a good indicator for ruddy. You can also see the abdominal waisting and the black legs in this shot.

Hanging in there

I changed the list a little. Southern hawker is removed because it’s rarer then I realized and lesser emperor has been added because its more frequent then I thought. I have my fingers crossed for the 3 hawker species brown, migrant and common in the next few weeks.

The list so far
Hairy hawker (seen) 
Common hawker (seen most likely in Little island, unconfirmed as could be an emperor)
Brown hawker
Migrant hawker
Lesser emperor
Emperor hawker (seen) 
Downy emerald (seen) 
Northern emerald
Four spot chaser (seen) 
Keeled skimmer
Black tailed skimmer (seen)
Common darter (seen) 
Red veined darter
Ruddy darter (seen)
Black darter (seen)

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