I found this Southern Hawker dragonfly basking in my garden yesterday. It is a common species in Devon and on Dartmoor.
Over the past few weeks a number of Southern Hawker dragonflies have been found dead at the entrance to the Devon and Exeter Squash and Racketball Club in Exeter.
My theory is that the dragonflies were drawn into the corridor as the lights had attracted various small flies and midges – their prey. Once they had fed on the flies they tried to leave by flying up to the glass window above the lights – they couldn’t get through and eventually ran out of puff and fell to the ground and died.
Never come across this before and fortunately seems to have stopped now.
At the end of June Ben our Foundry Manager at Finch Foundry photographed the following picture.
You need to get your eye in – there is a large dragonfly and it looks like it has just caught a brown smaller insect. Well – what has happened is the dragonfly has just emerged from the ‘brown insect’ after having lived in the stream for around 3 years as a larvae! The dragonfly isn’t very brightly coloured yet as it has only just emerged and is ‘blowing’ itself up.
Once the dragonfly has had a chance to ‘blow itself’ up its wings become extended and the colours develop. This is another dragonfly of the same species – this one taken last year at Lydford Gorge. It is a golden ringed dragonfly which is one of Dartmoor’s classic species.
Finch Foundry is in Sticklepath on the northern edge of the moor – it is the last working water powered forge in England and is the doorway to Dartmoor’s industrial past. Visit Finch Foundry to experience the sights, sounds and smells of three thundering water wheels powering massive hammers, shears and sharpening stone. These fuelled one of the South West’s most successful edge tool factories which, at its peak, produced around 400 edge tools a day. You can get an insight into the life of workers in the 19th century and learn about the enterprising Finch family. More details here – well worth a visit and of course there is interesting wildlife to see and a lovely little garden – see here.
I live very close to Bystock Ponds (A Devon Wildlife Trust reserve) on Woodbury Common so I popped in there after work – amazingly I haven’t been to this particular bit of Woodbury Common for over 30 years but I do remember working there in the early 1980s when I worked for Devon Wildlife Trust!
The reserve is a mix of heathland, grasslands, acid pools, streams and a small reservoir – it is in good condition and is very important for a wide range of acid loving species including some dragonflies. Here are a couple of pictures.
There are still quite a few species of dragonflies and damselflies on the wing – enjoying the warm dry weather – here are a few photos of some I photographed at Little Bradley Ponds near Bovey Tracey a few days ago.
Here are a couple of mating azure damselflies – one of our commonest species – the animal on the left is the male – note the thick broad black line with a thinner black line beneath it – this is one of the features that separates the species from the Common Blue Damselfly
There are still a few other species on the wing such as common darter, ruddy darter, black darter, southern hawker and the common hawker – this weekend could be a good chance to tack them down as it looks like the good weather will continue.
Whilst I was at the Safety on Dartmoor day at Lydford I came across a wildlife ‘moment’. Sat on one of the tables outside the cafe was a perfectly still golden ringed dragonfly. It is one of my favourites – it is a classic Datmoor species. Golden ringed dragonflies are quite common in the UK and are rather spectacular but are only found in those areas with acid rivers and streams. It is one of the first species of dragonflies I managed to identify back in 1983 when I worked for the Devon Wildlife Trust. In ‘those days’ dragonflies only had Latin names- Cordulegaster boltonii – a name that has struck with me ever since! Here is some more information on the species.