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Dragonfly

Froglet Log & Banking Dragons

Only a short stay at Llandegfedd today. Was swiftly greeted by another two boys on off-road vehicles thru the wild flower meadows again so that didn't put me in a great mood but this Froglet did save the day followed by a stunning Male Migrant Hawker hunting in the peeping sunshine that was trying so hard to make an appearance today. These weren't my intended subjects for today but sometimes you just have to make the most of what you're given. 

Heather Monitoring with Surprise Bird!

Todays heather monitoring went really well! Only had little showers but for the most part it remained really warm and sunny. Only a few grasshoppers on the uplands now though and plenty of movement with the Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Swallows so 'term has ended' for this years summer birds. On that note though, a typically 'winter bird' was flushed on our travels and we were shocked to find out it was a Short-eared Owl! This was a first for me so at that point my excitement levels hit the roof. The bird remained on topic for the rest of our trip but we had work todo so couldn't get too distracted. We covered a very large distance today but I won't give away location incase this particular owl was on breeding territory. It's not impossible though that it was just an early winter visitor. 

South Sebastopol Insects

A single Migrant Hawker was the only large Dragonfly on the canal today along with plenty of Common Darters that like to sun themselves on the pathway. Despite them having vibrant colours, they are actually quite difficult to spot when they remain still. 

Golden-ringed Dragonfly

Golden-ringed Dragonfly / South Sebastopol

September so far has been a little mixed, mainly down to how unpredictable the weather has been but overall, not bad at all! It's even been warm enough for the Hawkers, Club-tails and Darters to be on the wing and despite having the heat, I found this Golden-ringed perched up eating a wasp. It was so distracted and subdued that while still eating this wasp it allowed me to pick it up! You can really see the size on these beautifully striking dragonflies and I have to say, I think they may well be a personal favourite of mine. 

Emperor Dragonflies gone?

Despite the sun making an appearance the last two days, there has been no sign of flying or perched Emperor Dragonflies, this is a clear sign of the end of summer but all's not lost on the Dragonfly front just yet because this is where the Hawkers take over the party. On this particular patch, the dominant species has been Emperor's for the most of the year but now they aren't around, Southern Hawkers have moved in. With nothing to chase them off territory, they can carry on getting the last of they're breeding out of the way quick enough before summer really does end and the cooler weather leads them to either die or hibernate. There are sections of the Canal that aren't favourable to Emperors and you'll find in those area's, they will be dominated by Common, Migrant or Southern Hawkers. These areas are usually surrounded by trees or woodland rather than meadows. Emperors will happily perch up in a meadow to roost and also actively hunt over fields but Hawker dragonflies favour woodland areas and can tolerate more shaded areas. It is this reason that (despite their frequent fighting) both species can thrive on a long water system like a canal. Soon however, the open grassland that surrounds this particular section of the canal will soon be lost and we may see a drop in numbers of Emperors as a result. With large houses either side of the canal system, we won't see the same amount of sun getting to the water and that will effect the dragonfly/damselfly activity.

Emperor Dragonflies gone?

Despite the sun making an appearance the last two days, there has been no sign of flying or perched Emperor Dragonflies, this is a clear sign of the end of summer but all's not lost on the Dragonfly front just yet because this is where the Hawkers take over the party. On this particular patch, the dominant species has been Emperor's for the most of the year but now they aren't around, Southern Hawkers have moved in. With nothing to chase them off territory, they can carry on getting the last of they're breeding out of the way quick enough before summer really does end and the cooler weather leads them to either die or hibernate. There are sections of the Canal that aren't favourable to Emperors and you'll find in those area's, they will be dominated by Common, Migrant or Southern Hawkers. These areas are usually surrounded by trees or woodland rather than meadows. Emperors will happily perch up in a meadow to roost and also actively hunt over fields but Hawker dragonflies favour woodland areas and can tolerate more shaded areas. It is this reason that (despite their frequent fighting) both species can thrive on a long water system like a canal. Soon however, the open grassland that surrounds this particular section of the canal will soon be lost and we may see a drop in numbers of Emperors as a result. With large houses either side of the canal system, we won't see the same amount of sun getting to the water and that will effect the dragonfly/damselfly activity. 

Southern Dragonfly 

Emerald Damselfy

Was nice to see an Emerald Damselfly on my local patch on the Canal today! There are such high numbers of Common Blue/Azure's and also Red-eyed Damselflies that anything else in the mix is a nice bonus. Emperors are still on the wing so long as the sun is out but it doesn't look like we're going to be getting much of that this month. 

Odd Weekend Out

If there was one thing I've learned this weekend, it's to stay with what your familiar with this time of year, if you'd like to get better pictures that is. I ventured to a few different sights this weekend, Magor Marsh, Forest Farm, WWT Llanelli and Parc Slip, all in a bid to explore new locations to broaden my species list this year. Although all these locations were beautiful and diverse, I wished I stayed home and worked my local patch. Not only would I have got better photographs but I would have had more time in the field. I really don't think I made the most of the sunlight we had on Saturday and a full rainy/cloudy day on Sunday really made me realise how much that sun makes a difference to our wildlife activity. At WWT Llanelli there wasn't a single Dragonfly in sight! That said, we spent more time exploring the place than digging. 

Dragonfly Week

Safe to say, today was probably the best day I've had for Dragonflies this year so far. I found my first Keeled Skimmer on my home patch, and what a beautiful Dragonfly they are! This particular individual was very kind and allowed me to get very close from all angles.. Golden-ringed still present in this area along with the typical, Emperor, Broad-bodied, Black-tailed and Common Hawker. I look forward to seeing what this site produces into August. Also in this location, lots and lots of Grayling Butterflies. 

Emperor Dragonflies

Emperors still on the wing! Had another Golden-ringed flyby. No chance in getting a photograph of one of those.. Their behaviour is completely different to that of an Emperor. An Emperor will fly a relatively small territory, often in circles or 'race track strips': going round and round defending that patch so that females can lay their eggs on his patch. He will chase off any males that enter into that territory, including other dragonflies with the exception of the smaller damselflies that seem to live along side them very well. Even the Golden-ringed will be chased off as I have seen many times this month. If a female flies higher than 1ft, she will also be targeted! The males are very good hunters and can catch and eat on the wing.