Maps with most of the distribution information to hand have now been posted.
A trickle of news has come in since the last update concerning a few lingering adults of Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum, Black Darter S. danae and Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta (Don Cotton, Harry Hussey, Ian Rippey, Ted Rolston, Angus Tyner and Chris Wilson).
The News pages are going into their winter diapause. Emergence is expected in the Spring. A sincere thank you to all the correspondents who have contributed news to the page.
As usual can we ask you to send your completed record cards to Robert Thompson, if you have not already done so. Any outstanding records from previous years would be welcome as well.
Finally an early warning. 2003 is the last year for the project. The results will be published as soon as possible after the end of the project in 2004. Next year we will need your records as soon as possible after the end of the field season and before the final deadline (in October or November), so that they can be incorporated in the dataset and the maps.
At Ashford, Co. Wicklow there were 2 Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta at Angus Tyner's site on the 9th and 1 on the 10th. Their arrival coincided with some migrant Lepidoptera on SE winds so these may also have been immigrants.
Reports have also been received of Black Darter Sympetrum danae, Common Darter S. striolatum and Common Hawker Aeshna juncea (Ian Rippey, Angus Tyner).
Well into autumn now and according to your reports only 5 species are still on the wing.
Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta 1 male at the Old Head of Kinsale, Co. Cork on the 3rd October. This coincided with an arrival of migrant butterflies on southerly winds (Harry Hussey).
On the 7th there were 2 male and 5 female Common Hawker Aeshna juncea at the Montiaghs Moss Co. Antrim with Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum, Black Darter S. danae and a single male Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa (Ian Rippey).
There has been further westward spread of Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta along the south coast. Following on from Harry Hussey's sighting at Toe Head, Michael O'Donnell saw at least 3 male Migrant Hawker along one small section of the shoreline at Kilkeran Lake, near Rosscarbery, Co. Cork. Also present were quite a few Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum. He also saw 5 male Migrant Hawker on Cape Clear Island, Co. Cork on 27th. Apparently some had been present for about a month but had been identified as Common Hawker Aeshna juncea. Also on the island were about 10 Common Darter and 1 Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa.
On the 28th Tom Shevlin saw and photographed a female Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii at Carnsore Point, Co. Wexford.
It could be an interesting time for migrants over the next few days as winds are predicted to turn into the south.
On the 25th a male and female Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta were seen at Fenor Bog, Co. Waterford (Eddie Foyle). They were seen in tandem ovipositing in weed at the edge of the north pool. The only other Odonata present were approximately 8 Ruddy Sympetrum sanguineum and 7 Common Darter S. striolatum.
Records received indicate that at least 8 species are still on the wing. At Glendalough on the 21st Peter Doyle saw the following seven species
Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens - up to 6 male and 1 female (maybe more) flying on the bog surrounding the Lower Lake.
Black Darter Sympetrum danae - 2 at the Lower Lake and 20+ many in at the western end of the Upper Lake.
Common Darter S. striolatum - many.
Common Hawker Aeshna juncea - 6+ mostly males patrolling the edge of the large pond at the western end of the Upper Lake with a pair in tandem and a ovipositing female.
Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa - 15+ at Upper Lake.
Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum - 1 male at Upper Lake.
Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula - 1 male at Upper Lake.
The only other species which has been reported is Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta. 1 male was at Toe Head near Skibbereen, Co. Cork on 15th, and with 1 male was seen very well at Ballyvergan near Youghal, Co. Cork on 17th (Harry Hussey).
A large dragonfly, probably a Common Hawker Aeshna juncea, was seen on the summit of Cuilcagh (Cavan/Fermanagh) on the 21st (Peter Crowther). This is at 665m or 2188 feet.
Over the past week Ian Rippey saw the following 11 species:
Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens, Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans, Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum, Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa, Scarce Emerald Damselfly Lestes dryas, Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta, Brown Hawker A. grandis, Common Hawker A. juncea, Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum, Common Darter S. striolatum, Black Darter S. danae.
The Scarce Emerald L. dryas were at Newchapel Turlough near Borrisokane in North Tipperary. Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta were seen at Oak Park near Carlow and at Milford Bridge on the River Barrow a little south of Carlow town. There also were some Banded Demoiselle C. splendens at the latter site on the 13th.
Ian considers these could have been immigrants rather than locally bred individuals as there seemed to have been a substantial influx of migrant butterflies in the SE around the 13th. This is supported by Killian Mullarney who saw a male Migrant Hawker at Hook Head, Co. Wexford on the 13th and on the 14th an adult at the Cull, Co. Wexford and four along the small road leading down to Sigginstown at the east end of Tacumshin, Co. Wexford.
On the 13th at Glenveagh National Park, Co. Donegal in warm brilliant sunshine there were large numbers of Common Hawker A. juncea and Black Darter S. danae (Brian Nelson and Robert Thompson).
Whilst there is a distinct autumnal feeling to the early mornings, the warm sunny afternoons make ideal dragonfly-viewing weather and there is still plenty to see. I visited Brackagh Bog near Portadown Co. Armagh on the afternoon of the 1st. A lot of work was done on this reserve during last winter to recreate open water and these new pools are being used by many dragonflies. So hopefully over the next few years there will be an increase in the overall dragonfly population. Some species including the Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum have apparently been lost from the site and only time will tell if it will recover. The commonest species at Brackagh was Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum with hundreds present. There were only a few Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum, but this does not seem to be common inland this year. A single male Common Hawker Aeshna juncea and about 5 Brown Hawkers Aeshna grandis were seen. One pool had three ovipositing female Brown Hawker all using pieces of waterlogged wood. Two Four-spot Chasers Libellula quadrimaculata, a single male and a ovipositing pair of Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella and a single Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans completed the list of species.
Michael O'Donnell and Janet Whelehan saw two Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta at Arklow Ponds, Co. Wicklow on the 1st. There have been also up to 7 Brown Hawkers Aeshna grandis here and plenty of Common Darter S. striolatum.
At Ashford, Co. Wicklow a male Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens fluttered through Angus Tyner's farmyard on the 2nd. His site still has plenty of Common Darter S. striolatum and a few Common Blue Enallagma cyathigerum and Emerald Lestes sponsa damselflies.
From Ian Rippey I have had confirmation of the Roscommon records of Scarce Emerald Damselfly Lestes dryas. Both sites are west of Athlone. Ian has revisited the site in Meath which he thinks also has the species. The site certainly has Emerald Damselfly L. sponsa but also Ian considers at least a few Scarce Emeralds. Ruddy Darter S. sanguineum was very common on the 1st and there also was Four-spot Chaser L. quadrimaculata, Blue-tailed Damselfly I. elegans , several Brown Hawker A. grandis, Common Hawker A. juncea and an unidentified male Coenagrion damselfly.
At Lough Aderra, Co. Cork Tom Gittings reports a single Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum on the 24th August with "a lot of Ruddy Darter S. sanguineum, the first time I have observed this species outnumbering Common Darter S. striolatum (by a large factor) at this site". He also saw Keeled Skimmer O. coerulescens, Black Darter S. danae and Common Hawker A. juncea at Derrybrien in south-east Galway on the 29th August.
There have been two reports of Red-veined Darter S. fonscolombii from Dublin this year. The first was in mid-July (Eugene Archer). The second involves a red dragonfly caught by a cat in a garden in Castleknock, which appears to have been a Red-veined Darter. This particular cat has also caught two blue damselflies and a Brown Hawker. One of the Islandmagee Common Hawkers mentioned in the last news was also a cat victim. Anyone else got any similar tales?
The last week or so has provided best dragonfly-watching weather of the summer. Below is a summary of the recent reports. One of most interesting messages came from Selene Fee who has been on Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim for a few weeks. Species seen were Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum, Black Darter S. danae, Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa, Common Hawker Aeshna juncea, and Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans. Pleasing to get these as these are the first records we have received from Rathlin since the start of DragonflyIreland.
Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii
A male and female seen and photographed at Raven Point. Have been present for most of last week but identification not confirmed until 24th (Chris Wilson)
Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta
The Raven, Co. Wexford 24th (Chris Wilson) and a probable sighting at Rostellan, Co. Cork 23rd (Harry Hussey, Iain Hill)
Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum
2 males at Lough Aderra, Co. Cork 23rd (Harry Hussey, Iain Hill); 2 at Lough Gorman, Co. Donegal on 25th (Ian Rippey)
Emperor Anax imperator
One probable at Lough Aderra, Co. Cork 23rd (Harry Hussey, Iain Hill)
Common Hawker Aeshna juncea
6-7 at Knockakeo, Co. Cork 23rd (Harry Hussey, Iain Hill). Many seen while driving through SW Donegal over weekend (Brian Nelson). Twice reported from Islandmagee a virtually waterless part of Co. Antrim in last few weeks (Angela Ross, Catherine Tyrie).
Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis
About 6 at Ardpatten Lake near Ballintra, and another on the roadside north of Lough Gorman, Co. Donegal 25th (Ian Rippey). Near Enniskillen 22nd (Selene Fee).
Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura pumilio
Near Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh 22nd (Selene Fee)
Common Sympetrum striolatum, Black S. danae and Ruddy Darters Sympetrum sanguineum also reported. Also Common Blue Enallagma cyathigerum, Blue-tailed Ischnura elegans, Emerald Lestes sponsa and Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula.
Wicklow National Park hosted the last DragonflyIreland course of this year. It was held from Thursday 15th to Saturday 17th August at the Education Centre at Glendalough. Many thanks to the local Dúchas staff for assistance and facilities. Superb weather on the Friday allowed participants to see a wide range of species. Wind and rain on Saturday morning prevented further fieldwork, though it did brighten up considerably in the afternoon.
At the bog at the western end of the Upper Lake in the Glendalough valley good numbers of bogland species especially Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens, Black Darter Sympetrum danae, Common Hawker Aeshna juncea and Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa were seen on the 16th. Also seen were Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula, Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans, Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum, Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata, Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum and Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum.
The course also visited Russeltown Park on the western side of Blessington Reservoir, a locality for Scarce Emerald Damselfly Lestes dryas. Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis was a new species for the course, making 11 in total. Large numbers of Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis and Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum were seen at Russelstown Park on the 16th (Colm Ronayne and Robert Thompson). No Scarce Emerald Damselfly Lestes dryas were seen on either day and there have been no reports of it at this site since 1981.
Two additional species were seen on my own wanderings on the 16th which brought the total for the weekend to 13 species. These were Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo seen on the bridge at the Upper Lake Carpark in Glendalough and Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta seen at the mill pond at Nun's Cross near Ashford, Co. Wicklow - the first report this year.
Neil Spellacy reports Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo at Spideal Co. Galway which is a significant new record.
Ian Rippey reports Scarce Emerald Damselfly Lestes dryas from both Roscommon and Meath, but he says they require confirmation. If so these would be new county records.
It's fair to say that only a trickle of reports have come to me over last two weeks. A summary is given below. The weather maintains its frustrating pattern affecting dragonfly activity in many ways. Adults of a number of species are still emerging including Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum, Blue-tailed Ischnura elegans, Common Blue Enallagma cyathigerum and Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa. Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta should be around but I have had no reports to date.
Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens - Ross Lough Co. Fermanagh 26th July (Tom Maguire) and Westport House, Co. Mayo 1st August (Philip Mahaffie).
Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula - This species seems to have been in very low numbers this year. Adults are still being reported with records from Killyfanned Lough, Donegal 3rd August (Brian Nelson) and Castlepook near Doneraile, Co. Cork 5th August (Peter Doyle).
Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum - Sheskinmore Lough, Co. Donegal early August (Brian Nelson)
Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense - A male was seen at the Raven, Co. Wexford 25th July (Chris Wilson). Not many later records than this.
Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis - Westport House, Co. Mayo 1st August (Philip Mahaffie); Carry Bridge, Co. Fermanagh 6th August (Brian Nelson). Appears scarce this year.
Emperor Anax imperator - Seen in last few weeks at Fenor Bog, Co Waterford (Eddie Foyle), the Raven, Co. Wexford (Chris Wilson) and Ashford, Co. Wicklow (Angus Tyner).
Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens - 7 males at the Bloody Bridge, Co. Down 25th July (Ian Rippey and Ted Rolston). 3-4 male and also 1 pair in tandem at Castlepook near Doneraile, Co. Cork 5th August (Peter Doyle). A significant new record for this attractive species.
Common Hawker Aeshna juncea - 1 at the Bloody Bridge, Co. Down 25th July (Ian Rippey and Ted Rolston); Singles seen near Bonniconlon (Bunnyconellan) and in Ballina Co. Mayo late July and early August (Philip Mahaffie). Freshly emerged female seen at dune pool near Sheskinmore 4th August (Brian Nelson).
Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata - Sheskinmore Lough, Co. Donegal early August (Brian Nelson)
Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum - Reported widely. Very large numbers emerging early August at Sheskinmore Lough, Co. Donegal (Brian Nelson) and adults still emerging at Ashford, Co. Wicklow (Angus Tyner).
Black Darter Sympetrum danae - Westport House, Co. Mayo 1st August (Philip Mahaffie). Several sites in Donegal including large numbers recently emerged at Lough Nambraddan near Fintown 4th August (Brian Nelson)
Some late news of Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens seen on the boggy margins of Lough Alewnaghta, in Co. Clare (R7590) on the 19th July by Garth Foster. This is first record from Clare since 1978.
There was a field trip by members of Dublin Naturalists' Field Club led by Colm Ronayne to the Raven, Co. Wexford last Saturday (20th July). In dull conditions they saw the following:
Emperor Anax imperator One male in the first clearing beyond the entrance barrier. It caught either a bumblebee or large hoverfly and landed in the willowherb close to the pond. It also had a short 'dogfight' with an Common Hawker Aeshna juncea over the pond.
Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum A few males and females at first pond with many more at the 'toad' ponds at the point.
Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis
Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata
Common Hawker Aeshna juncea One at the top pond and a second male at the 'toad' ponds.
Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella
Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans
On Sunday 21st there were 5 Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens in the UCC campus and 4 near Jury's Hotel, both on southern channel of the River Lee in Cork City [Harry Hussey]. Two male Emperor Anax imperator were seen at Lough Aderry near Middleton, Co. Cork on 22nd July. Also present were Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum and Common Darter S. striolatum, Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata, Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans and some unidentiifed 'blue' damselflies. [Harry Hussey, Ian and Carla Hill]
On the 19th Peter Doyle visited Tacumshin, Co. Wexford and saw 5 male Emperors Anax imperator holding territory and 1 probably 2 females ovipositing at a pond close to the lake. Another male Emperor was present at the east end pond at Tacumshin with several Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum. Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum, Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum and Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans were also present
Dermot Breen sent the following series of records from Offaly in the period 14th-20th July.
Noggus Bog: 1 male Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens , 4+ hawker sp. (including one identified Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis, 10 Four-spotted Chasers Libellula quadrimaculata, 40+ Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum, 1 Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum, Large Red Pyrrhosoma nymphula, Variable Coenagrion pulchellum and Blue-tailed Damselflies Ischnura elegans.
Barony Bridge (near Finnamore Lake): 8 Beautiful Demoiselles Calopteryx virgo and only 2 Banded Demoiselles Calopteryx splendens. This site is a slow moving stream that flows through the Lough Boora Bog Complex, not exactly typical habitat according to the books.
Finnamore and Tumduffmore Lake: 4 male Black-tailed Skimmers Orthetrum cancellatum, Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum, Four-spotted Chasers Libellula quadrimaculata , Emerald Lestes sponsa, Azure Coenagrion puella, Variable C. pulchellum, Common Blue Enallagma cyathigerum, Blue-tailed Ischnura elegans, and Large Red Damselflies Pyrrhosoma nymphula.
Clara Bog: 1 emerging male + 2 flying Common Hawker Aeshna juncea along with six other Odonata species.
Glaster Sand-pit: 1 male Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum, Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans and 1 Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum.
Pallas Lough: 1 immature male and one female Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis, 1 immature male Common Hawker Aeshna juncea, 30+ teneral Emerald Damselflies Lestes sponsa, 20 teneral Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum. However the Irish Damselflies Coenagrion lunulatum must have stopped flying already as none were seen in 3 hours of watching here.
On the 21st July Ian Rippey saw 3 Keeled Skimmers Orthetrum coerulescens at Killevy Castle, Co. Armagh, the only breeding site known in the county.
A series of interesting records sent in by John Cahill includes the first report of the Emperor Anax imperator from Co. Tipperary. A male Emperor was seen at the "The Wilderness" near Clonmel on the 3rd July together with 3 Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense. Two Emperors were seen on a constructed wetland near Kilcannon, Co. Waterford on the 15th. At the same site, John saw 100s of both Blue-tailed Ischnura elegans and Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum, at least 60 Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum, 2 Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis, 6 Common Hawker Aeshna juncea and 1 Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata.
On the Annestown Stream near Dunhill Co. Waterford both Banded Calopteryx splendens and Beautiful Demoiselle C. virgo were seen on the 15th.
At last some decent weather and in places large numbers of dragonflies. In particular I have seen some impressive emergences of darters in the last week. Some damselflies can be seen in good numbers but the Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula seems to be very scarce this year.
In the last week I have been firstly in Cavan, Leitrim and Longford looking at some of the prime wetlands in these counties with the local Dúchas rangers, Sue Moles (Longford), John Matthews (Leitrim/Cavan) and Maurice Eakin (Cavan). Our main objective was to check the Longford turloughs for Scarce Emerald Damselfly Lestes dryas. Despite the very high water levels, we were successful at Cordara Turlough where the species was seen in large numbers. Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum was also seen at Cordara. There must have been several hundred newly emerged adults which memorably flew up as we walked through the vegetation, their shiny wings glinting in the light. In contrast at the nearby Fortwilliam turlough we only had brief glimpses of a few darters and no damselflies. Both Sympetrum and Lestes larvae were seen, so it is possible this turlough also has both species.
Another site visited in Longford was Derry Lough which had the only Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum colony in the county. Ignore what is marked on the OS maps as this lake no longer exists. Drainage of an adjacent bog for peat extraction is responsible. A few drains contain the only open water and these are unlikely to support the species so it is presumed this colony no longer exists.
In Donegal over the weekend in hot sunny weather on the 14th there were large numbers of newly emerged Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum around Sheskinmore Lough. Despite much searching I failed to see any Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum at this site.
Other interesting records received include the following:
Common Hawker Aeshna juncea. Few reports so far. 2 were seen at Peatlands Park on 13th July. 2 emerged from a pond near Buncrana Co. Donegal on 16th June (Terry Tedstone).
Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis. The only reports I have are of one at Lough Funshinagh, Co. Leitrim (Brian Nelson) on 9th July, and at both Cloonty Lough and near Lough Oughter, Co. Cavan on 11th July (Maurice Eakin, Brian Nelson)
Emperor Anax imperator 2 males and an exuvia at Ashford, Co. Wicklow on 13th (Angus Tyner).
Black Darter Sympetrum danae Seen on a bog near Lough Sheelin by Maurice Eakin on 8th July. Ian Rippey saw 20 at Peatlands Park, Co. Armagh on 13th July.
Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense Single males seen at Cloonty Lough, Co. Cavan 11th July (Maurice Eakin, Brian Nelson) and Sheskinmore Lough Co. Donegal, 14th July (Brian Nelson).
Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum. Several at Lough Funshinagh Co. Leitrim 9th July (Maurice Eakin, Celine Fee, John Mathews. Sue Moles, Brian Nelson).
Some late news received from Ian Rippey who visited sites in west of Ireland in late June. Highlight of this was the discovery of Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum in Co. Roscommon. A single male was seen at Cranberry Lough SW of Athlone on 18th June.
Also seen by Ian were Scarce Emerald Damselfly Lestes dryas at Ballyvelaghan Lough, Co. Clare, - the first and only report so far this year - and Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum at Ballyeighter Lough, Co. Clare on 19th June.
Coming into the Museum today it was hard to believe that it was the 1st July. Like yesterday it is overcast, wet and cold. Angus Tyner tells me that on Friday it reached the giddy heights of 20°C making it the warmest day of the year so far at Ashford.
The last DragonflyIreland fieldcourse of the year in N. Ireland was held at Crom Co. Fermanagh on the 29th June. The participants managed to see 7 species but there was very little activity. Overall a damp, disappointing day. Of course the sun came out as I drove home and I managed to see another 3 species in the evening sunshine.
Some hardy dragonflies are still flying and hardy recorders are seeing them.
The following message from Killian Mullarney
"As anticipated, Emperors are continuing to show up down here, but not yet in any great numbers. Last Wednesday, 26th June I returned to the "Retreat centre" pool just south of Blackwater, Wexford and there was a handsome (and entirely typically coloured) male Emperor patrolling one corner. Also, a good number of Four spotted Chasers (c12) and one unidentified hawker. I had managed to check only a couple of other pools nearby that day, and recorded only Four spotted Chasers at both of them, when the sun disappeared for the afternoon. I spoke to Tom Kilbane on Saturday 30th, and he reported seeing three Emperors and one Hairy Dragonfly at the east end of Tacumshin lake."
Killian ends with an optimistic thought
"It looks like there might be some warm weather later in the week."
And from Angus Tyner the following
"I was up early to close off my moth trap and decided I may as well have a speculative look around my lake and bog. About one third of the way round my bog I heard the characteristic whirring of wings beating against vegetation. I pointed the torch towards where the sound was coming from and looked frantically. The sound stopped, but I kept searching. The sound started again and then I saw the hawker profile against the brightening sky flying fast over me and away as far as I could see. What surprised me was the absence of colour similar to the blue damselflies when they first emerge. The Hairy (Brachytron pratense) always have some colour when they take their maiden flight, but this is during day in warmer temperatures. I knew that I had to find the exuvia to make identification, so I put on my waders and looked. It was still not fully bright at this stage and it took a bit of time to find it. It was on a emergent sallow branch in the middle of the bush. I had a quick look around in the surrounding vegetation for other exuviae but did not find any. It seems there has not been a mass emergence. Having seen live Emperor larva earlier this year, the exuvia immediately looked liked Emperor. Having consulted the Brooks guide, I'm convinced it is a female Emperor that I saw on its maiden flight."
Angus found a second exuvia on 30th.
I would like to thank all correspondents who have sent in news items without which the News Pages would be less informative. However could I ask correspondents when sending in news they please include a grid reference or some more precise description of the location of sites. I am conscious that there will be many readers who are not familiar with the site and will be unable to locate it. Site location will only be given if there is public access.
The first reports of Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa have been received from Kieran Breen who saw some at the Montiaghs Moss, Co. Antrim earlier this week. Fresh males and females were seen on the DragonflyIreland fieldcourse visit to the Montiaghs on the 27th. At Ashford, Co. Wicklow, Angus Tyner saw his first of the year on the 28th.
Three Common Hawker Aeshna juncea were seen at the Montiaghs on the 27th. Individuals were reported there earlier in the week by Kieran Breen and Graham Saunders.
Some interesting information about the Downy Emerald Cordulia aenea at Glengarriff, Co. Cork from Clare Heardman, the Dúchas ranger for the area. Downy Emerald has been seen by the original recorder in the Coomarkane area as recently as three years ago. Clare has visited another pond in the woodland at Glengarriff recently to look for the species, so far without success. Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense was seen - a notable record for the area.
An Emperor Anax imperator was seen patrolling the "Quarry" pond near Tacumshin Lake, Co. Wexford on Sunday 23rd June (Tom Shevlin).
Recently emerged Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum were seen at Belfast Harbour Estate, Co. Down and Montiaghs Moss on the 26th and 27th respectively (Brian Nelson, Bernard Picton). Finally also on the 27th a small number of immature Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum were noted at the Montiaghs Moss.
Both the weather and the number of dragonflies have picked up over last week and there is quite a bit of news to report on for the first time this year. This is summarised below by species. Your reports all indicate that the numbers of most species are still lower than normal and emergence patterns are erratic. I suspect there will be an extended flight season for the early species particularly Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense so don't be surprised if you see this species well into July. The three main headline items show that despite the poor conditions, there are surprising things to be found ANYWHERE in Ireland. The Emperor record from Wexford is arguably not surprising as it is clearly firmly established, but it is a species well worth seeing. Will it spread further this year? A single Irish Damselfly beside a pond near Westport marks a huge leap westwards for the species as dramatic as the discovery in north Donegal. So surely there are undiscovered sites in east Mayo, Roscommon, Longford and Cavan. There is still plenty of time this year to find some more. Finally the finding of a Red-veined Darter in Co. Down by Bernard Picton in his garden was very unexpected. Not a dragonfly hotspot (there is no pond in the garden), but proof that anything can turn up anywhere. Just need some luck and sharp eyes!
Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo : 1-2 males at Clogheenmilcon fen near Blarney, Co. Cork (Harry Hussey). Also at Ashford, Co. Wicklow and Altimont Gardens, Tullow, Co. Carlow (Angus Tyner)
Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens : Ashton's Callow, Co. Offaly (?) (Harry Hussey); Altimont Gardens, Tullow, Co. Carlow (Angus Tyner); R. Bann near Portadown, Co. Armagh (Maurice Hughes, Ian Rippey, Mike Robinson and Ted Rolston).
Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella : Clogheenmilcon fen near Blarney, Co. Cork, Derrynaflan, Co. Tipperary and Pallas Lough, Co. Offaly (Harry Hussey).
Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum : First site in Mayo discovered near Westport on 23rd June (Colm Ronayne). Also seen at Pallas Lough, Co. Offaly (Harry Hussey) and at Wood Lough, Co. Tyrone (Ian Rippey)
Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum : Clogheenmilcon fen near Blarney, Co. Cork and Pallas Lough, Co. Offaly (Harry Hussey).
Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula : Good numbers at Ashton's Callow, Co. Offaly (?) (Harry Hussey); Derrynaflan, Co. Tipperary (Harry Hussey); Mongan Bog, Co. Offaly (Eugenie Regan); Moyaliff Wood and Cabragh wetlands, Co. Tipperary (Eddie Foyle).
Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura pumilio : Recent reports from Ashford (Angus Tyner) though numbers here are much lower than last year and Tonnagh Quarry, Co. Fermanagh (Ian Rippey and Robert Thompson).
Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense : Near Tacumshin, Co. Wexford (Killian Mullarney)
Emperor Anax imperator : One was seen by Killian Mullarney on the 19th June as he describes below, on a visit to the "Retreat Centre" pool between Curracloe and Blackwater, Co. Wexford.
"I had been there for about twenty minutes, and had seen a number of Four-spotted Chasers and a single hawker sp (presumably Hairy Hawker?) when suddenly an Emperor appeared right in front of me. Curiously, it did not have as bright blue an abdomen as usual, though the basal two segments were bright blue. The superficial impression was, in fact, reminiscent of a Lesser Emperor though at close range the broad dark dorsal stripe and the dull blue of the remainder of the abdomen was just about visible in flight. The jizz was typical of Emperor. I watched it for a couple of minutes, it clashed with several of the Four-spotted Chasers and then disappeared."
Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata : Derrynaflan, Co. Tipperary and Ashton's Callow, Co. Offaly (?) (Harry Hussey); Screen Hills, Co. Wexford (Killian Mullarney).
Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum : Very large numbers of recently emerged adults at Lough Carra, Co. Mayo (Robert Thompson). This or Keeled Skimmer at Ashton's Callow, Co. Offaly (?) (Harry Hussey).
Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum : Still the only reports have come from Angus Tyner at Ashford. He has seen up to 8 in recent days all around the woodland and along hedgerows. This is usual with this species as adults emerge from ponds then disperse into general countryside to feed and mature. Good places to look for them are as Angus has found are sheltered sunny edges of woodland, stands of bracken, clumps of bramble, etc.
Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii : A male caught in his garden at Crawfordsburn, Co. Down on 22nd June by Bernard Picton as he describes below. This is only 2nd record for N. Ireland (first was in 1998) and follows earlier records in Wexford. There have been a number of recent reports in Britain (see Hot News on British Dragonfly webpages http ://www.dragonflysoc.org.uk). Any mature red darter is worth checking!
"The sun had come out a bit and I was just walking down the garden when I saw a darter with a much brighter red abdomen than Common Darter hovering above the path. It darted forward and caught something, then settled on a stick. I ran up to the garage, grabbed my net and crept back to where it had settled. It was still there so I popped the net over it and took it into the house to examine it closely. I tried to convince myself that it was a Ruddy Darter, but there was no swelling of the abdomen. The red veins on the wings were not obvious to me (eyesight is going a bit!) until I looked with a hand lens, but then I was convinced that it really was a Red-veined Darter. I guessed that no-one would believe me unless I had proof, so I took a couple of pictures after it had settled down and kept it in a jar in the fridge until I could show it to Brian Nelson."
Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum : Large numbers of freshly emerged adults (50+) at Brackagh Moss NNR, Co. Armagh on 21st June (Brian Nelson).
Colm Ronayne has sent the first report of Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum for this year. Immature and teneral adults were seen at the Finnamore wetland, Lough Boora Parklands Co. Offaly on the 15th June. On the same day Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum was seen in good numbers at Pallas Lough, Co. Offaly.
Keeled Simmer Orthetrum coerulescens has also emerged. 5 teneral adults were seen by Ian Rippey at Leitrim Lodge in the Mourne Mountains, Co. Down on the 17th. This is the best and easiest site in the Mournes for the species.
Ian also saw a single female Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura pumilio of the bright orange immature form aurantiaca at a gravel pit near Cranfield, Co. Down.
Ian Rippey and Ken Bond have both pointed out that Lough Graney is in Co. Clare and not Co. Galway as I said earlier.
The early summer of 2002 will go down as one of the poorest seasons for many years. Dragonflies of course will get through it, as they have to! Despite the weather and high water levels which is affecting everywhere there are some interesting and surprising things to report.
First of all congratulations to regular correspondent Angus Tyner and wife Kim on the birth of their daughter.
It has always been speculated that many sites for Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum remain to be found in the north midland counties. Confirmation of this comes from Mike Hunter, who was awarded one of our fieldwork grants. Mike concentrated his fieldwork on lakes in Leitrim and during this found Irish Damselfly at 13 new sites in the Mohill and Carrick-on-Shannon areas. This is a tremendous effort considering the weather. Only small numbers of adults were seen at many of the sites and further visits will be needed to confirm the status of the colonies. In one square (H00) Mike found 6 sites, a much higher density than in any other part of its range.
Robert Thompson and myself were in Kerry last week looking for Downy Emerald Cordulia aenea. There were two main objectives. Firstly to find other sites for the species within the Killarney National Park and secondly to relocate the species at Glengarriff, Co. Cork. We partly achieved the first as we saw at least 3 males at Doo Lough on the 12th June during the only spell of sunshine that day. There appear have been no specific reports of Downy Emerald from Doo Lough before, which is surprising as the lake appears very suitable for it. This is perhaps the source of the adult records seen in the Muckross area by Bullock in the 1920s and by Baynes in the 1950s. In 1978 several Downy Emerald were seen along the Coomarkane River near Glengarriff. There have been no further records. So this was a target for our trip and we visited here on the 13th. Unfortunately, the weather was windy, cool and often drizzly. There are 2 ponds at the western end of the valley which look suitable for Downy Emerald but no dragonflies were found. These need to be revisited. Contact me for further details.
It is clear that many dragonflies have not emerged and are waiting for better conditions. In Clare and Offaly many mature Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense larvae were seen at the flooded edges of lakes. This species is likely to have an extended flying season this year. Other species should be out but have not been reported yet, Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum being one. None were seen at the Boora Parklands Offaly on the 14th, a site at which large numbers were present last year.
In contrast some species are emerging early. A Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis was seen by Mike Hunter on the 9th June at Costre Lough, Co. Leitrim. This appears to be earliest ever Irish records of an adult.
Whilst I was away my 10 year old son Calum told me he saw a freshly emerged dragonfly on the 13th June sitting in the vegetation beside our garden pond. Surprisingly this proved to be a Common Hawker Aeshna juncea – confirmed from the exuvia. This is one of the earliest ever Irish records.
I hesitate to say the weather has improved but at least it is feeling warmer and the showers are getting less frequent. Wednesday and Thursday have been in the north at least the best days for some time with lots of sunshine, lighter winds and dry conditions. But numbers of dragonflies are still below what would be expected for this time of year - June is usually the peak month for damselflies in lowland areas.
The two headlines concern the discovery of Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum in Donegal and records of Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii in Wexford. The Irish Damselfly was seen by Ralph Sheppard at Ballyboe Lough, NE of Milford on 1st June. This is the first county record. Ralph tells me the lake appears typical for the species and that there are similar lakes in the area which may hold other colonies.
The second main item concerns confirmation of the Red-veined Darter in Wexford. Tom Shevlin saw 2 adults on 3rd June at Ring Marsh which is at the south-east corner of Lady's Island Lake. Tom also saw a red darter at Carnsore Point on the same day. Photographs of one of the Lady's Island adults can be seen at http ://www.wildlifesnaps.com These records are coincident with large-scale immigration of butterflies and moths along the south coast including Hummingbird Hawkmoths and Clouded Yellows.
Other news includes Irish Damselfly seen at two sites near Mohill in Leitrim on the 5th. The species was seen at Cloonboniagh L. where it was first seen in 1997 and also at Cloonfinnan Lough a new site (Mike Hunter and Brian Nelson).
Banded Demoiselles Calopteryx splendens are on the wing. Adults have been seen on the R. Lee at Cork on 2nd June (Ken Bond) and on the Lagan near Belfast on 3rd June (Graham Saunders).
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it does! Last year you may remember May was mostly dry, sunny and often hot. The news then referred to large numbers of many species especially Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense flying at many sites. This year hardly any have been seen.
My trip to the Burren to run a course for Galway Wildlife Group was almost, but not entirely, a washout. Friday was a day for sitting in the pub. Around midday on Saturday brief, almost sunny conditions hinted at an improvement, but within the space of an hour the rain was back heavier than ever and the temperature had dropped. Before that a few dragonflies were seen including Azure Coenagrion puella, Variable C. pulchellum, Blue-tailed Ischnura elegans and Common Blue Enallagma cyathigerum Damselflies and 2 Four-spotted Chasers Libellula quadrimaculata at Dromore Wood Nature Reserve. The Common Blue Damselflies were attempting to emerge. A few had succeeded but many had been caught out by the rising water levels and unlikely to survive.
On Sunday the showers were still heavy but the dry intervals were longer and so with some sunshine it was warmer. Highlight of the day was the finding of Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura pumilio at Lough Graney, Co. Galway.
Two newly emerged Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum have been seen by Angus Tyner at Ashford, one on the 27th and one on the 28th. Can't offer an explanation for that - they must be regretting it now!
The following report was received from Tom Shevlin.
'On Thursday May 23rd I saw a Darter dragonfly on the dunes at The Raven in Co. Wexford. It would not allow close approach so I could only watch it through binoculars but I'm almost certain it was a Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii). The wings had a distinctly reddish tint to them and the overall impression was of a deep red-coloured darter from eyes to end of abdomen. I couldn't get close enough to see the undersides of the eyes or to check other features and the dragonfly flew off after a few minutes. I could not relocate it despite frantic searching.'
In Britain a Red-veined Darter was seen in Portland, Dorset on 22nd May. SE winds are forecast for this weekend, so some insect migration is likely. Any mature darters seen are worth a closer look.
Angus has sent me video to confirm the identification of the female Lesser Emperor Anax parthenope he saw at his pond last year. Included with this was a sequence showing the larvae mentioned in the previous news items. Both appear to be Emperor larvae so at last we have confirmation that the species is breeding in Ireland.
Not surprisingly given the present weather pattern here has been little to report over the last weeks. The windy conditions particularly make dragonfly recording a challenge. Even if you can find somewhere sheltered and also avoid the torrential showers there are few dragonflies to be seen. Whilst many sites have seen some precocious emergences, I think most species will wait until June to appear in large numbers.
Ian Rippey reports numbers of Irish damselflies at the Montiaghs Moss, Co. Antrim on 16th May. The species always seems to emerge early here (and finish earlier). The shallowness of the pools on this site may have something to do with it. The shallower the pool the quicker it will warm up each year, allowing more rapid larval development and earlier emergence. Certainly at Selshion Moss, which is only a few miles away from the Montiaghs, there was no sign of any Irish Damselflies on the 20th in warm sunny weather. The pool on this site is much larger than the breeding pools at the Montiaghs.
Angus Tyner has seen larvae which he considers are those of the Emperor, but these need to be confirmed. If they are they were of a size which suggests they will not emerge until next year.
As usual a rush of first sightings of the year as the weather warms up. Of course the species are there all the time as larvae and just not very visible.
Species seen since the last news are the following
4th May – Four-spotted Chaser, Libellula quadrimaculata at Montiaghs Moss (David Nixon)
10th May – Scarce Blue-Tailed Damselfly, Ischnura pumilio at Ashford, Co. Wicklow (Angus Tyner)
10th May – Variable Damselfly, Coenagrion pulchellum at Montiaghs Moss (David Nixon and Ted Rolston)
The most interesting record is of a female Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense on Great Saltee Island, Co. Wexford, on 11th May by Peter Doyle. Apparently the species has been seen on Great Saltee before. There are some small pools on the island in which the species can breed. The problem species like this face on small islands is not necessarily the lack of water but the exposed conditions. Both Peter and Chris Wilson mentioned that there have been earlier records of Hairy Dragonfly from Saltee. Once again can we ask recorders to send us all their dragonfly records, even those from before 2000, so that they can be added to our permanent database.
A few more April reports have been received, but I have been unable to upload the news recently so apologies to the recorders for not posting them sooner.
April reports are as follows
6th April – A single Large Red Damselfly at Montiaghs Moss, Co. Antrim (Robert Thompson)
19th April – At least 10 Large Reds and a Hairy Dragonfly at the Montiaghs (Ted Rolston)
30th April – One newly emerged Hairy Dragonfly and an exuvia at Ashford, Co. Wicklow (Angus Tyner)
Since the beginning of May more species have been emerging. All these first reports come from Angus Tyner. Anyone else seeing any dragonflies?
2nd Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum
3rd Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella
5th Blue-Tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans
22nd April 2002
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19th April 2002
About 10 Large Red Damselflies were seen at Selshion Moss by Brian Nelson, Rosemary Mulholland and Jim Bradley. Whilst this is an unusually early date, it is not unprecedented.
|Nelson, B., Thompson, R. & Morrow, C., 2001 (April 22). [In] DragonflyIreland http ://www.ulstermuseum.org.uk/dragonflyireland/|