On 17th June, John Roberts counted approx. 10 Variable damsels (male pictured) at Cheshire Wildlife’s Hatchmere reserve, Delamere Forest as well as Blue-tailed, Red-eyed and Common Blue damsels. Despite the weather, it was surprising how many damsels were about.
On 6th June, Alan Redley spotted this superb female Black-tailed Skimmer at Carey Park. (It’s possibly an immature male and the two are difficult to tell apart. But I think on balance it’s a female – JR).
On 3rd June, John Roberts walked a BDS transect beside the River Dee looking for Common Clubtails and their exuviae. Unfortunately, none were sighted that day but there were dozens of Banded Demoiselles, several Common Blue damsels and a couple of beautiful Broad-bodied Chasers present.
On 25th May Steve Holmes unearthed some Common Darters on Gowy Meadows near Thornton-le-Moors. This represents an extremely early record for the species, and looking back over the last 10 years of VC58 data, I couldn’t find an earlier one.
Club-tailed Dragonflies were seen on the 23rd May at Farndon and Aldford, with 6 adults sighted. The adult Club-tailed Dragonflies aren’t always obliging on the River Dee and so often the exuviae are easier to spot in the bankside vegetation, as Katie Piercy found near Farndon. At least the exuviae are distinctive and therefore easy to identify, see below.
On 22nd May I had a visit to Wych Brook to the south of Malpas where 4 male Beautiful Demoiselle and 2 females were seen.
On 21st May Dennis Swaby took a trip to Sandbach Flashes and saw Common Blue Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Broad-bodied Chaser and Banded Demoiselle. A slow day, but it certainly didn’t stop him taking some excellent photographs!
On the 16th May, Steve Richardson was lucky to spot this immature (brown eyes) female Downy Emerald perched in Hogshead Wood near Nunsmere. There were other specimens whizzing about but too fast and high to snap.
On the 15th May, John Roberts visited Churton near Alford and spent a happy hour watching at least 6 Hairy Dragonflies. Males were busy patrolling and scrapping while females were either ovipositing or being pounced on. An excellent place to view the low-level, zigzagging flight patterns of the males as they patrolled their patch. The pic of the solitary male below shows the remnants of a meal still visible in his mandibles.
On the 14th May, John Rayner sighted this fabulous Broad-bodied Chaser in his back garden proving that you don’t always have to go to a ‘hotspot’ to get the best shots. The patterns of wing venation are just beautiful.
Also on the 14th May, Andrew Goodwin spotted the first (for us) Hairy Dragonfly at Newbridge Pool near Winsford and managed to get this great pic.
On the 13th May, Dennis Swaby captured this beautiful shot of a male and female Banded Demoiselle. We were interested to see that the pigmented spots on the male appeared relatively small which is in keeping with the findings from the University of Durham. They found an association between the size of the spots/bands and time of year i.e. the earlier in the year, the smaller the size. For more details, please see the latest issue of The Darter magazine.
The season has really got off to a flying start given the marvellous weather we have all experienced in April especially over the Easter weekend. Sightings have started to come in of Large Red Damsels, Common Blue Damsels, Blue-tailed Damsels and Four-spotted Chasers. At Fens & Whixall just over the border in Shropshire, confirmed sightings of White-faced Darters have even been reported; this is exceptionally early for this species. So, if you’ve not been out and about yet, we recommend that you get your boots on and dust off the camera. Here’s a great shot of a LRD from Delamere Forest by Steve Richardson.
This great close-up of a female Migrant Hawker was taken by Steve Richardson on the 24th September near the Roman Bridges at Hockenhall Platts. Also, sighted by the River Gowy were 4-5 Common Darters and a Ruddy Darter.
A great close-up of a Common Darter taken by Alan Redley in his garden on the 2nd September. I love the detail shown on the head area.
A most unusual angle on this Common Darter taken by Steve Richardson at Shemmy (Abbots) Moss on 22nd August.
Another great photo by Steve Richardson, this time of a Common Darter taken at Hogshead Wood on 21st August. I like the composition of this shot i.e. the background is out of focus and the darter’s leafy perch is also of interest.
You don’t always have to go far to see some incredible dragonflies. Cyril Langman has spotted a fantastic array of species in his garden near Chester this year, including Banded Demoiselle, Broad-bodied Chaser, Common Darter and most recently (6th August) a female Southern Hawker ovipositing (laying eggs), pictured below. If that’s not a reason to have a pond in your garden, I don’t know what is, and they don’t have to huge to get dragonflies in!
On the 13th August Dennis Swaby visited Sandbach Flashes and saw two Brown Hawkers and one male Southern Hawker. Like Steve Richardson the week before, the Southern Hawker posed beautifully for some close up photos, see below.
On 6th August Paul Brewster spotted a male Ruddy Darter, photographed below, at Newchurch Common, along with his first Migrant Hawker for the year. For those still lstruggling with their darter ID, note the largely unmarked thorax, red frons (face) and all black legs. At least 8 Brown Hawkers were also in attendance on the 6th, a very good number.
Posted 10 August 2018
On 4th August, Steve Richardson spotted this female Southern Hawker on the wing in Eddisbury woods just south of Delamere Forest. On spotting the camera, she decided to pose so Steve whipped out his macro and captured this stunning shot. You can even make out her tiny antennae!
On 2nd August Sheelagh Halsey visited Old Wood Pool, Goostrey and spotted a Black-tailed Skimmer feasting on a Common blue damselfly. In addition to the Black-tailed Skimmer there wasn’t much else on the wing, other than over 90 Common blues, practically an all you can eat buffet!
Posted 30 July 2018
Another rare sighting for Cheshire has been reported by Andy Goodwin and John Rayner. On the 25th July at Big Pond, alongside the Vale Royal Cut, Northwich a colony of Small Red-eyed Damsels was discovered comprising at least 7 individuals including a pair in tandem and another pair ovipositing. Also observed at this site were Red-eyed Damsels, Emperors, Brown Hawkers, Common Darters, Blue-tailed Damsels and Common Blue Damsels.
Photo below of Small Red-eyed Damsels courtesy of Dennis Swaby (2015).
Posted 29 July 2018
A rare sighting of a Keeled Skimmer in east Cheshire has been reported by Andrew Goodwin on 24 July. His excellent photo of the specimen lurking in the grass is below.
Also seen on the same day were 5 x male Scarce Blue-tailed Damsels and a single male Common Hawker.
Posted 27 July 2018
Three more super photos of a female Southern Hawker, male Black Darter and Emerald Damsel taken by Steve Richardson in Delamere Forest recently.
Posted 25 July 2018
These are two great close-ups of Black Darters taken by Steve Richardson last week in Delamere Forest.
Posted 23 July 2018
This great photo of an Emerald Damselfly was taken by Steve Richardson in Delamere Forest last week. It looks as if the female is ovipositing, starting out of the water and then working her way down the rush stem where she may become completely submerged.
Posted 23rd July 2018
These two photos illustrate the colour and behavioural differences between mature male and female Banded Demoiselles. Most males are territorial and will seek out a prominent lookout from which they sally forth to scrap with other males or to court the females. Females usually lurk in the vegetation to await the male’s advances.
Images taken beside the Shropshire Union Canal near the Shady Oak pub by John Roberts
A Keeled Skimmer, a real rarity for Cheshire, showed up at Thurstaston Common on 8th July. Spotted by Gill Jakeman who took this brilliant photo, along with 2 Emperors, several Four-spotted Chasers, a male Broad-bodied Chaser, a Brown Hawker and Blue-tailed, Azure and Large Red Damselflies.
On 4th July Joy Beresford took the below photo of an old female Emperor Dragonfly at Billing Green Flash near Northwich.
Peter Leicester had a great day at Neumann’s Flash, Northwich, among other places on 23rd June. He recorded Hairy Dragonfly, Brown Hawker, Emperor, Four-spotted Chasers, Common and Ruddy Darters, Black-tailed skimmers, plus Common Blue, Azure, Blue-tailed and Large Red Damselflies. The photo below is of the male Ruddy Darter.
NEW CHESHIRE SPECIES!!
Several reports have come in of Scarce Blue-tailed Damselflies at a pond in East Cheshire. As it is a small, sensitive site the original recorder, Andrew Goodwin is keen to keep numbers of visitors in check. Up to 12 individuals have been seen around two small linked ponds, with copulation and ovipositing observed. Dennis Swaby took the lovely photos below on 11th June.
In Delamere around the 13th June, Bob Wilkinson saw a Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad-bodied Chaser, male and ovipositing female Emperor and several teneral Black Darters.
Rob Dobson managed to get this Emperor to sit still long enough for a photo at Manor Park, Runcorn on 11th June. He spotted a total of 5 Emperor dragonflies, 1 Four-spotted chaser and numerous Red-eyed, Common Blue, Azure, Blue-tailed and Large Red damselflies
Pete Leicester explored his local patch further on the 11th June. Uncovering more Four-spotted Chasers at Anderton Nature Park, along with a Hairy Dragonfly and 5 Black-tailed Skimmers. Neumann’s Flash was dominated by Black-tailed Skimmers, with the adjacent stream covered by Banded Demoiselles.
A great day was had by Pete Leicester at Anderton Nature Park on 6th June: Lots of Four-spotted Chasers, 4 Black-tailed Skimmers, a pair of Emporer Dragonflies with the female ovipositing, 2 Hairy Dragonflies, 1 teneral Common Darter and many Common Blue, Azure, Large Red, Blue-tailed and Red-eyed Damselflies.
Richard Knisely-Marpole took this wonderful picture of a female Black-tailed Skimmer at Hatchmere on 3rd June.