News 2003

14th October

It looks like October is not going to produce any exceptional records of dragonflies. This will be the last update of the News Pages and they are going into hibernation. Whether they will be resurrected next year is uncertain. If you have any views on this let me know.

I would like to thank all the correspondents who have sent in records over the last four years. The pages could not have been written without your regular and interesting observations. I hope they have proved useful and informative. I would also like to thank Bernard Picton and Fiona Maitland who did the technical bits with unfailing efficiency and good humour, converting my often garbled text into html and making sure the pages worked.

Finally this is a last reminder that we must receive all your records by the 31st October. We cannot process and add records received after this date, so if you think you have any outstanding records from any year this is your last opportunity to send them in. Coverage currently stands at 83% of the 1000 or so 10km squares in Ireland visited at least once during DragonflyIreland, which is a superb achievement, and considerably exceeds our expectation. Most of the gaps are coastal squares with little or no land.

Only one report has been received so far this month from Peter Doyle of 2 Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta and 10-15 Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum at the Birdwatch Ireland nature reserve Kilcoole, County Wicklow on 11th.

15th September

With the equinox only a week away there is a definite autumnal feeling to the mornings and many of the trees have started turning brown. My impression is that there are not that many dragonflies about despite the warm and settled conditions - perhaps adults became spent earlier than usual during the good weather in August.

The deadline for submission of records (end of October) is approaching fast - please help by sending in any completed cards now (from any year) so that we have time to process them. If you need more cards contact us as soon as possible.

The following is a summary of records received over the last 2 weeks (all dates in September).

Common Blue-tail Ischnura elegans 1 at Tacumshin, Co. Wexford on 6th (Peter Doyle). 1 female at Cronykeery, near Ashford, Co. Wicklow on the 11th (Angus Tyner).

Common Blue Enallagma cyathigerum At least 4 males at Cronykeery on the 11th (Angus Tyner).

Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta At Cronykeery a mating pair and another male on 2nd and 2 males on the 11th (Angus Tyner). 5 males at Tacumshin, 6th (Peter Doyle). 2 males at Kilmacanogue Marsh, beside the N11 and just south of Bray Co. Wicklow on 14th (Peter Doyle).

Common Hawker Aeshna juncea At least 6 males and 1 ovipositing female at Castle Pook, near Doneraile Co. Cork, 6th (Peter Doyle). 1 male at Cronykeery on the 11th (Angus Tyner).

Emperor Anax imperator A probable male at Ballycotton, Co. Cork on 10th. Seen flying over the dunes before moving inland, so possibly a migrant (Paul Moore).

Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata 1 at Brackagh Moss, Co. Armagh (Brian Nelson) 6th.

Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens 1 male at Castle Pook 6th (Peter Doyle).

Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum Seen at Tacumshin and Castle Pook (at least 40), 6th (Peter Doyle). About 10 at Cronykeery on the 11th (Angus Tyner). 'Good numbers' at Kilmacanoge on 14th (Peter Doyle).

Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum Seen on 6th at Tacumshin (Peter Doyle) and at Brackagh Moss, Co. Armagh (Brian Nelson). At least 1 male at Cronykeery on the 11th (Angus Tyner).

Black Darter Sympetrum danae 1 male at Castle Pook on the 6th (Peter Doyle).

1st September

A trickle of news in last few days mainly from Co. Cork but also a summary of sightings by Ian Rippey. Thanks as usual to all the correspondents.

I mentioned in the last news the Short-winged Conehead at Tacumshin. Credit for finding this goes to Tony Nagle who first saw them there on 3rd August. Other Orthoptera which have been seen and heard in Cork and Waterford this year by Tony Nagle, Dave Cooke and others include Roesel's Bush-cricket Metrioptera roesellii at Ballintray near Youghal and the Dark Bush-cricket Pholidoptera griseoaptera, which is common around Minane Bridge, Co. Cork. Ian Rippey also found the Large Marsh Grasshopper Stethophyma grossum at what appears to be a new site in east Galway.

But to get back to dragonflies some interesting reports including another sighting of a Lesser Emperor in Cork plus Emperor on Sherkin Island in west Cork, which is the westernmost sighting to date.

Lesser Emperor Anax parthenope
1 in the disused Raffeen (= Ballyhemiken) quarry near Ringaskiddy Co Cork (Mark Shorten)

Emperor Anax imperator
Up to 10 in the Raffeen quarry (Mark Shorten). 1 male at the south end of Sherkin Island Co. Cork on 24th August (Paul Moore).

Common Hawker Aeshna juncea
Good numbers on Sherkin Island 23rd and 24th August (Paul Moore)

Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta
2 in the Raffeen quarry (Mark Shorten). At least 7 at Lough Aderra, Co. Cork and singles at both Knockadoon Head and Ballyvergan (Harry Hussey).

Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens
In the upper Urrin valley, Co. Wexford early August (Ian Rippey). First records from here since the early part of the 20th Century

18th August

More reports of Lesser Emperor have been received. Adrian Parr who collates migrant dragonfly records in Britain tells me that there have been up to 10 reports so far (though a few may not get accepted), with peaks in 2nd week of July, and on 8th-10th August. He adds 'There is some suggestion that we've had a local emergence as well, in Cornwall. Here too ovipositing has been observed, so maybe we are starting to see a resident population establishing itself in our region.' I spent 3 days of last week in Waterford and Wexford, seeing one of the Lesser Emperor at Monaneea Lough with the finder Pat Smiddy. Many dragonflies were seen at Tacumshin Lake including Brown Hawker, but Lady's Island Lake had very few dragonflies in perfect weather. The Raven was very productive for Migrant Hawker. No Red-veined Darter were seen amongst the usual abundance of Comon and Ruddy Darter all along the south Wexford coast.

My best find was however not a dragonfly but a bush cricket the Short-winged Conehead, which was abundant in the saltmarsh at several places around Tacumshin. This appears to be only 2nd Irish record. I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has seen this species here and for how long (or any other interesting crickets or grasshoppers along the south coast), as these species could also be spreading with warmer climate. I didn't find the conehead at Lady's Island even though habitat looks exactly right for it.

Common Hawker Aeshna juncea
Male and ovipositing female at Monaneea Lough, Co. Waterford 12th August (Brian Nelson). Male and two ovipositing females at the Raven Nature Reserve, Co Wexford 14th August (Brian Nelson).

Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis
Seen at Monaneea Lough 12th August (Brian Nelson, Pat Smiddy), and at several sites in south Wexford including the SE corner of Tacumshin 13th August and the Raven Nature Reserve, Co. Wexford.14th August (Brian Nelson).

Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta
This was the commonest hawker at the Raven Nature Reserve on 14th August. Several males and females were seen feeding and perched within the pine wood, and there were three males patrolling one of the lower ponds. In early afternoon at 6-8 adults were giving excellent views as they hawked along the sheltered edge of the pines at the southern tip of the reserve (Brian Nelson).

Emperor Anax imperator
At least 6 males and one ovipositing female at Monaneea Lough 12th August (Brian Nelson, Pat Smiddy). Males at Ballyvergan and Lough Aderra, Co. Cork 12th-14th August (Harry Hussey).

Lesser Emperor Anax parthenope
1 male at Monaneea Lough, Co. Waterford 12th August (Brian Nelson, Pat Smiddy). 1 male at Ballyvergan, near Youghal, Co Cork 11th August (Iain Hill) and 2 males at Lough Aderra, Co. Cork 14th August (Harry Hussey and Iain Hill).

Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum
2-3 at Lough Aderra, Co. Cork 14th August (Harry Hussey and Iain Hill).

11th August

Today has been the first chance to update the news as I have been on leave for a fortnight. For part of the time I was in the New Forest southern England, getting reacquainted with species such as Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea, Golden-ringed Cordulegaster boltonii and Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa, three species which all have a tenuous position on the Irish list. Southern Hawker is a possible colonist. Despite its name it is found in Scotland including some of the Inner Hebrides where it breeds in pools along the coast. In England it is a common inhabitant of small garden ponds. In flight, the very broad antehumeral stripes on the thorax are very obvious, as is the two-toned abdomen. Southern Hawker is the same size as Common Hawker, but more colourful and also easier to see as they hawk at waist to head height over the vegetation. Broad-bodied Chaser is so unmistakable and conspicuous that it presence in Ireland could not have escaped notice. Several reports have been received this year of Golden-ringed, none of which unfortunately are entirely convincing. Again this is a conspicuous dragonfly, very easy to observe and, if present in Ireland, unlikely to be missed.

Scarce Emerald Lestes dryas
Many adults present at the newly discovered colony near Leitrim village, Co. Leitrim site on 6th August (Brian Nelson, Robert Thompson).

Scarce Bluetail Ischnura pumilio
One male at Ballyhemiken Quarry, Co. Cork on 30th July (Mark Shorten)

Common Hawker Aeshna juncea
Four at Lough Ouler, Co. Wicklow 26th July (Peter Doyle). Seen at two sites on Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim on 27th July (David Nixon)

Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis
Seen at Long Lough and Carrick Lough, north of Rathmullan, Co. Donegal on 6th August (Terry Tedstone) - the first recent records from north Donegal.

Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta
2 seen near Lady's Island Lake 2nd August (Killian Mullarney). Female or immature male at Ashford, Co. Wicklow on 7th August (Angus Tyner).

Emperor Anax imperator
Still about at a number of sites in Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Wicklow.

Lesser Emperor Anax parthenope
1 at Ladies Island Lake, Co. Wexford 26th July (Killian Mullarney, Eddie Lonegan). Looked for but not seen the next day and no further reports. 4, including a mating pair, at Monaneea Lough, Co. Waterford, late July (Patrick Smiddy). The first report of a mating pair. These are the first Irish reports since 2001 when a number were seen in the south and east. I'm not aware of any reports of Lesser Emperor in Britain. I think there is a strong possibility these may be locally bred individuals, emerging after two years as a larva.

Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens
Seven at Hugginstown Fen, Co. Kilkenny on 14th July (Eddie Foyle)

Black-tailed Skimmer Ortherrum cancellatum
One male at Portnacrinnaght Lough Gara, Co. Roscommon 6th August (Brian Nelson, Robert Thompson).

Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum
In ‘great numbers’ at Hugginstown Fen, Co. Kilkenny on 14th July (Eddie Foyle). Many adults present near Leitrim village, Co. Leitrim site on 6th August (Brian Nelson, Robert Thompson). Common at several sites in south Wexford (Harry Hussey, Killian Mullarney and Chris Wilson).

Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii
Possible adult at Lady’s Island Lake, Co Wexford 2nd August (Killian Mullarney).

22nd July - Current coverage map

21st July

Now well and truly into the hawker season and judging by the reports Common Hawker is now widespread. Brown Hawker also visible in the midlands. Few reports of darters as yet back on the breeding ponds. Coastal sites should be checked for possible migrants.

Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo
One male in a garden at Blackrock, Co. Dublin 7th July (Michael Slevin) appears to be first record for the county. 4 male and 2 female at Finnamore lakes, Co. Offaly 20th July (Dermot Breen).

Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens
3 adults seen on the Six Mile Water near Antrim town on the 14th July - first record for this river (Neville McKee).

Scarce Emerald Damselfly Lestes dryas
Seen at a second site in Co. Sligo in early July (Don Cotton). Seven new sites discovered in area of Gort, Co. Galway (Nick Donnithorne).

Hairy Hawker Brachytron pratense
Female at Montiaghs Moss Co. Antrim 10th July (Ian Rippey). One at Brackagh Bog, Co. Armagh 12th July (Robert Thompson)

Common Hawker Aeshna juncea
Green form female at Peatlands Park 14th July (Brian Nelson). Male at Killiney Co. Dublin on 15th July and 2 at a pond in a private garden at Dalkey on 16th July(Peter Doyle).

Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis
Widespread reports of this from Clara Bog, Co Offaly (Peter Doyle), Dalkey, Co. Dublin (Peter Doyle), Reilly Wood (Ian Rippey) and Lough Coole, Co. Fermanagh (Brian Nelson), near Middleton Co. Armagh/Monaghan (Ian Rippey), Lamb's Lough, Co. Monaghan (Ian Rippey), Finnamore Lakes , Co. Offaly (Dermot Breen).

Emperor Anax imperator
1-2 males at Lough Aderra, Co. Cork and a male and a female (ovipositing) at Ballyvergan, Youghal, Co. Cork on 11th July (Harry Hussey). 4-6 males and an ovipositing female at a quarry pond near Tacumshin Lake, Co. Wexford and another male at a second in the area 13th July (Peter Doyle).

Four spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata
Abundant at Clara Bog, Co Offaly, 12th July (Peter Doyle). Common also at Brackagh Bog, Co. Armagh 12th July (Robert Thompson)

Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens
2 males at Clara Bog, Co Offaly, 12th July (Peter Doyle). 30 at Annagh Bog, Co. Tipperary 12th July and 4 at Coolderry bog near Banagher Co. Offaly 14th July (Alex Copland). 30 males holding territory plus females at the flushes at Leitrim Lodge, Co. Down 15th July. Two males also along Rocky River in same area of the Mournes (Brian Nelson).

Black Darter Sympetrum danae
Immature female at Montiaghs Moss Co. Antrim 10th July (Ian Rippey). Female or immature male near Dungourney (Knockakeo), Co. Cork 11th July (Harry Hussey).

7th July

As usual after a break of a week or so there is lots of news to summarise. Thanks to all the regular correspondents for their messages.

July always marks a subtle change in the dragonfly season in Ireland with the emergence of the emerald damselflies, darters and large hawkers which quickly come to dominate breeding sites. July is also the tail end of the flight period for early species including the Hairy Hawker Brachytron pratense, Downy Emerald Cordulia aenea and Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum. The possibility of migrant species increases during this month. None as yet have been reported in Ireland but Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii have been seen in Lancashire in the last few days. This year could be an interesting for migrant dragonflies as June temperatures in Europe have been very high which may induce northward movement of dragonflies as habitats dry out.

As usual I have summarised the news by species ignoring records of the more common species.

Scarce Emerald Lestes dryas
Two very significant finds at single sites in Leitrim and Sligo - both new county records (Don Cotton and John Matthews).

Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo
Female in disused quarry between Kilfenora and Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare, on 19th June (Ian Rippey). One male near Enaghan, Co. Offaly on 24th June (Alex Copland).

Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum
Seen at Lough Alaban, Co. Fermanagh and Cullentra Lough, Co. Tyrone on 25th June (Brian Nelson). Negative reports on same day from Black Lough (H4840), Co. Fermanagh and Black Lough (H7153) Co. Tyrone although both sites seemed unchanged. Bob Merritt also reports absence from Summerville Lough Co. Galway. Found at Bekan Lough and Cloonacurry Lough west of Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo (Bob Merritt).

Hairy Hawker Brachytron pratense
A male at Knocklahard near Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, 2nd July (Brian Nelson, Robert Thompson) is latest to date.

Common Hawker Aeshna juncea
Mature male and two immatures at Knocklahard near Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo 2nd July (Brian Nelson, Robert Thompson).

Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis
Adults have been widely reported with reports from Drumod, Co. Leitrim, 25th June (Ian Rippey); near Fivemiletown, Co. Tyrone, 29th June (Kenny Murphy);; Navan Fort, Co. Armagh, 1st July (Ian Rippey); Inishard, Lough Mask, 1st July (Brian Nelson, Robert Thompson); and, Knocklahard near Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, 2nd July (Brian Nelson, Robert Thompson).

Emperor Anax imperator
Larvae and exuviae south west of Blackwater, Co. Wexford (Bob Merritt). At Ashford the maximum count has been seven on 28th June. Six males were patrolling on 27th (Angus Tyner).

Downy Emerald Cordulia aenea
3 (2 female and 1 male) at Lough Beg on 14th June (Geoff Hunt).

Northern Emerald Somatochlora arctica
Up to 8 males flying over breeding pools close to Lough Beg in Killarney National Park 30th June. Two females ovipositing in pools were in the same area. Probably largest number seen at one time in Ireland and one of only a handful of observations of breeding behaviour of our rarest species. (Robert Thompson, Brian Nelson, Peter O'Toole, Roedolf Koops).

Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens
Approximately 50 adults, mostly immature, on a dry sandy heathy area on the SW shore of Lough Conn near Pontoon Co. Mayo (Robert Thompson, Brian Nelson).

Black Darter Sympetrum danae
Tullinicky Bog near Portumna, Co. Galway, 29th June (Alex Copland) - the first report of the year.


26th June

The following account by Peter Doyle describes the joys of dragonfly recording on a summer day.

"With the sun beating down yesterday I headed up to Ballinafagh bog outside Prosperous, County Kildare, to see what I could see. After parking the car I headed out to the edge of the lake and within a minute or two had the first of many fully mature Black tailed Skimmers - they were everywhere! I caught a couple for closer inspection. Also in abundance were blue damsels - both Common Blue and Variable as well as Blue tailed and Large Red. I spent some time sitting by the lake just watching the skimmers flying over the lake and the surrounding bog; being chased by Four spotted Chasers, in turn chasing them and each other. I decided to head for a quieter boggy corner I knew of and had an obliging male Common Darter (one of a handful) perched on the way as well as a small number of Emerald damselflies. At the secluded muddy corner I had the first surprise of the day - 2 male Keeled Skimmer and a mating pair. I had never seen this species at Ballinafagh before and it may well be a new square for it. Moving deeper into the bog I kept getting unsatisfactory glimpses of Hairy Hawkers flying by and over the reeds. The next surprise was an early slowly patrolling Common Hawker in an open patch. I was initially taken aback by the sheer size and controlled flight of it compared to the also present smaller Hairy Hawkers and had some nice flybys of it. I retreated back to have a last look at the Keeled Skimmers and on heading back towards the more exposed part of the bog, I had two confiding male Hairy Hawkers clashing - one of which after many close flybys, I eventually caught. Again at the lake was the still frenzied activity of Black tailed Skimmers and Four spotted Chasers. Moving slowly around the exposed part of the lake my son found a perched male Brown Hawker by the edge with a damaged lower right wing - the 7th anisopteran of the day! After catching a final Black tailed Skimmer I decided after a stay of just over 2 and a half hours to call it a day - my son was starting to protest!. So a final tally of 7 dragonfly species (Common, Brown and Hairy Hawker, Black tailed and Keeled Skimmer, Common Darter and Four spotted Chaser) and 5 damsel species (Common blue, Variable, Blue tailed, Large Red and Emerald) all giving excellent views made it the best day of the season for me so far and the weather was glorious."

Keeled Skimmer has been recorded at Ballinafagh once before in 1997, but this is the first indication the species breeds here. The only other Kildare site is at Louisa Bridge near Leixlip, but there appear to be no dragonfly records from here since 1982. Niall MacNeill often visited the Louisa Bridge site and found Keeled Skimmer there as long ago as 1949.

Angus Tyner found 3 Scarce Blue-tail Ischnura pumilio male at a pond in Parnell Park, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow on 24th June and an Emperor Anax imperator patrolling over Vartry Reservoir at Roundwood, Co. Wicklow.

22nd June

With the warm weather over the last week dragonfly numbers have increased and the first mid summer species have appeared. Conditions have been excellent for fieldwork and judging by your messages many have taken the opportunity to get into the field.

Robert Thompson and I were in Cork and Kerry searching for the Downy Emerald Cordulia aenea. The main objective was to search for the species at the Glengarriff locality. It was a pleasure to meet Patrick Goyvaerts, the original recorder, who showed us precisely where he found the dragonfly. Just prior to our visit, Clare Heardman, the local Duchas ranger, had seen 2 Downy Emerald at the site on the 13th June. Several adults were seen by us all on the 17th and it appears the population, although restricted to one site, is reasonably large. This was a brilliant result after several frustrating attempts to find it in the past. The site is very difficult to access even under normal conditions, but presently made more difficult by the forestry operations taking place in the area and a visit to it is not recommended. If you want to see the species, try the Killarney sites, which are much more accessible.

The other news is summarised as usual by species. I've not included the common species which have been on the wing for some time such as Large Red Pyrrhosoma nymphula, Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata and Common Blue-tails Ischnura elegans, as all these have been widely reported.

Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo
Glengarriff, Co. Cork 13th June (Clare Heardman). Ashford, Co. Wicklow 13th June (Angus Tyner).

Scarce Emerald Lestes dryas
Many (well over a hundred) adults both immature and well-coloured males at Ballinduff, Co. Galway 16th June (Brian Nelson, Robert Thompson). Also seen by Ian Rippey at Ballyvelaghan Lough, Co. Clare, Newchapel Turlough, Co. Tipperary and Murrens, Co Meath in the last week.

Common Emerald Lestes sponsa
First seen at Ashford, Co. Wicklow on 16th June (Angus Tyner).

Scarce Blue-tail Ischnura pumilio
An adult male seen on a flooded wheel rut on a raised bog near Listowel, Co. Kerry 7th June (Geoff Hunt). A male and mature female at Ballynahatten gravel pit near Kilkeel, Co. Down 13th June (Ian Rippey). Three mating pairs, about 8 mature males, a female and a teneral male at Tonnagh Quarry, Co. Fermanagh 15th June (Ian Rippey).

Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum
At least 25 males at Cortial Lough 4 miles west of Dundalk Co. Louth 14th June (Ian Rippey). First record for Louth. Two new sites near Knock, Co. Mayo (Bob Merritt). Adults also reported from Montiaghs Moss, Co. Antrim and Drumnahavil, Co. Armagh/Monaghan (Ian Rippey, Graham Saunders).

Hairy Hawker Brachytron pratense
Widely reported. Several were seen at sites around Glengarriff, Co. Cork on 13th and 17th June (Patrick Goyvaerts, Clare Heardman, Brian Nelson and Robert Thompson). Males and ovipositing females seen at Ashford, Co. Wicklow (Angus Tyner). Geoff Hunt reports it from several sites in Wexford and north Kerry during late May. Present in a disused quarry near Carrigaline, Co. Cork on 21st June (Harry Hussey).

Common Hawker Aeshna juncea
No reports of adults yet but a fresh exuvia was found at a pond at Buncrana, Co. Donegal on 15th June (Terry Tedstone).

Emperor Anax imperator
Over the last week or so up to 4 males have been present at Ashford, Co. Wicklow (Angus Tyner). A mating pair at Ballyhemiken Quarry, near Carragaline, Co. Cork 18th June (Mark Shorten). There were 2 males at the same site on the 21st (Harry Hussey).

Downy Emerald Cordulia aenea
Adults seen at Lough Beg in Roedolf Koops Peter O'Toole, Up to 4 males at Glengarriff, Co. Cork 13th and 17th June (Patrick Goyvaerts, Clare Heardman, Brian Nelson and Robert Thompson).

Northern Emerald Somatochlora arctica
First adults were seen on 6th June and regularly since in the Derrycunnihy and Lough Beg area of Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry (Roedolf Koops, Aine Lynch and Peter O'Toole). Two males were seen here on the 18th (Roedolf Koops, Andrew McGeeney, Brian Nelson, Peter O'Toole and Robert Thompson).

Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum
A female or immature male seen at the Murrens, Co. Meath - first county record (Ian Rippey)

Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens
First seen on the 13th June near Glengarriff, Co. Cork (Clare Heardman) and at Leitrim Lodge in the western Mournes, Co. Down (Ian Rippey). Teneral adults at Lough Beg, Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry 14th June (Geoff Hunt) and at same site on 17th June (Roedolf Koops, Andrew McGeeney, Brian Nelson, Peter O'Toole and Robert Thompson). Two were at Castle Pook, Doneraile, Co. Cork on 21st and 22nd June (Peter Doyle). An immature on bog near Borrisokan, Co. Tipperary (Ian Rippey).

Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum
A teneral adult at Ballynahatten gravel pit near Kilkeel, Co. Down 13th June (Ian Rippey). Also seen at Newtown, Co. Galway 16th June (Brian Nelson, Robert Thompson) and near Glengarriff, Co. Cork on 17th and 18th (Patrick Goyvaerts, Clare Heardman, Andrew McGeeney, Brian Nelson and Robert Thompson). Teneral adult at Ashford, Co. Wicklow 16th June (Angus Tyner). At least 20 adults at Ballyhemiken Quarry, near Carragaline, Co. Cork 18th June (Mark Shorten).

Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum
First adult of the year was seen on 14th June at Ashford, Co. Wicklow (Angus Tyner). Several newly emerged adults at Ballinduff turlough, Co. Galway 16th June (Brian Nelson, Robert Thompson)

9th June

This is the first chance of an update for a while as I was away on fieldwork in Clare and south Galway all last week. Weather there was mixed, alternating between bright warm and sunny, and dull and often wet. It was often windy so insects were concentrated in shelter. Water levels were still high but dropping especially in the turloughs.

A lot of interesting reports were received which is summarised by species. The main headline news concerns the discovery of Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum in Co. Meath and the first sighting of adult Emperor Anax imperator this year.

Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens

First adults were seen on 30th May at Dyne's Bridge on R. Bann a regular site near Portadown, Co. Armagh by Ian Rippey. Two males seen on the Fergus R. at Dromore Wood Nature Reserve, Co. Clare on 4th June (Brian Nelson). 'A few' were seen on the Blackwater River at the Argory, Co. Armagh, on 7th June (Lindsey Greeves).

Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo

One near Ashford, Co. Wicklow 6th June (Angus Tyner). First report of 2003.

Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum

On 3rd June a freshly emerged female was seen at Muckanagh Lough, Co. Clare and another adult was seen at Teernea Commons near Ruan, Co. Clare (Brian Nelson, Maurice Hughes). An adult was seen at Lough Gealain, Burren National Park on 7th June (Julia Nunn).

Emperor Anax imperator

Angus Tyner found two exuviae (the shed larval skins) - one of each sex - at his lake at Ashford, Co. Wicklow on the 31st May. Single Emperor emerged from the same site on both 1st and 2nd June. An adult was seen at the Raven, Co. Wexford on the 8th June (Christopher Wilson).

Hairy Hawker Brachytron pratense

Widespread reports of this species. An estimated 50 adults were concentrated along a grassy cattle track and clearing in hazel scrub on the eastern edge of the Burren near Slieve Carran on 2nd June (Brian Nelson, Maurice Hughes). Both males and females were seen. Many were feeding, but what caused this number of adults to concentrate here is a puzzle. The nearest suitable breeding site water is at least 6km away.

Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum

40 seen at the Montiaghs Moss Co. Antrim on 30th (Ian Rippey and Laurence Morgan). Discovered at a site near Oldcastle in western Co. Meath on 6th June (Triona Finnen). First county record.

Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura pumilio

Large numbers including some aurantiaca (the orange teneral female form) seen at a pool in dunes at Sheskinmore Lough, Co. Donegal on 24th May by Ken Bond.

Scarce Emerald Lestes dryas

Large numbers of larvae present in turlough at Ballinduff, Co. Galway on 4th June. Larvae also found at Newtown Turlough just west of Gort, Co Galway on 3rd - a previously unrecorded site (Brian Nelson).


28th May

So far 2003 seems to be following the pattern of 2002, with a mild early spring, followed by a dull and wet May. Fortunately it is not quite as wet as last year, although water levels are still higher than usual and the numbers of adult dragonflies are only slowly increasing. The forecast however does suggest some drier and warmer weather towards the weekend.

Robert Thompson reports the first adult Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum of the year at the Montiaghs Moss, Co. Antrim on 27th May. Other wise things are quiet. The early species have been widely reported. Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula was seen on Clare Island, Co. Mayo by Stephen MacCormick last week. Lynda and Chris Huxley saw Large Red Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum and Four spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata near Mullach Mor in the Burren, Co. Clare on 25th. A Hairy Hawker Brachytron pratense was seen on Cruit Island, near Burtonport, Co. Donegal on 25th by Ian Rippey. This extends the limit of this species a bit further north.

12th May

Geoff Hunt has sent the following account of details of his first sightings in Co. Limerick which includes the first report I've had of Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum.

'My first sighting was of 50 (some teneral) Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella and 4 Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum seen on 2nd May at Ballynamona near Askeaton. Two Hairy Hawker Brachytron pratense, 100 Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula, 6 Azure and 3 Common Blue-tailed Ischnura elegans were all seen at Ballyneale near Ballingarry on 10th May. This is a new square for both Hairy Hawker and Large Red Damselfly.'

Otherwise little to report. One correction however, the first Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum emerged on the 23rd April at Ashford, Co. Wicklow (Angus Tyner).

7th May

Since the last update more species have emerged all seen at Ashford, Co. Wicklow by Angus Tyner.

Angus saw his first Common Blue-tail Ischnura elegans - a female form violacea - on 28th April. On the 29th there were at least 8 Blue-tails, teneral, immature and a mature looking male. Numbers emerging built up over the weekend and by the 6th over 100 were present with smaller numbers of Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella.

The first Hairy Hawker Brachytron pratense and Common Blue Enallagma cyathigerum were seen on the 1st May.


23rd April

The 2003 Newsletter has been produced and posted to all recorders.

More reports of Large Red Pyrrhosoma nymphula from Ashford, Co. Wicklow on 17th (Angus Tyner), Annaholty Bog, Co. Limerick/Tipperary, on 18th (Brian Hodkinson) and Ballymena Co. Antrim on 19th (Paul and Gerard McHugh).

Two very precocious emergences reported of Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata and Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella . A Four-spotted Chaser was seen by Laurence Morgan at the Montiaghs Moss, Co. Antrim on 17th April. Angus Tyner saw a teneral female Azure Damselfly at Ashford, Co. Wicklow on the 20th. The previous first dates for both these species was the 2nd May.

17th April

The dragons are back!

The first adult dragonfly of the year was reported by David Nixon on the 15th - a Large Red Pyrrhosoma nymphula at the Montiaghs Moss, Co. Antrim.



Nelson, B., Thompson, R. & Morrow, C., 2003 (May 7). [In] DragonflyIreland http ://www.ulstermuseum.org.uk/dragonflyireland/


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