News 2004

26th July

A brief summary of the reports received since the last update. Most of the summer species have emerged and the only species so far unreported is the Autumn (Migrant) Hawker Aeshna mixta. I was out of the country most of July, but from what I have heard the Irish weather has been largely unsuitable for migrants, so the Cork Yellow-ringed (Lesser) Emperor Anax parthenope seem more likely to have had a local origin. The challenge is for someone to find definitive proof of breeding. The numbers seen suggest it has almost certainly happened somewhere.
In eastern Spain in early July I only saw only a single Anax parthenope, but there were big numbers of both Autumn (Migrant) Hawker Aeshna mixta and Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii.

Yellow-ringed (Lesser) Emperor Anax parthenope 4th July 5-6 at Lough Aderra, Co. Cork in a brief spell of sunshine (Mark Shorten).

Blue Emperor Anax imperator Many females ovipositing at Cronykeery, Co. Wicklow through July (Angus Tyner).

Turlough Spreadwing (Scarce Emerald) Lestes dryas A significant number of colonies discovered in Co. Longford and in the Oldcastle and Fore area of Co. Meath (Nick Donnithorne)

14th June

Geoff Hunt sent the following press release, giving information on the opening of a dragonfly reserve on Aughinish Island, Co. Limerick. If you are able, please support the event.

Aughinish are opening a dragonfly sanctuary on 15th August and they are going to name a small lough Hunt's Lough on the day.
Meet at the main car park of Aughinish Alumina, 2pm.
All are welcome.
A visit to the butterfly sanctuary will also be included on the event.

4th June

Geoff Hunt sent the following press release, giving information on the opening of a butterfly reserve on Aughinish Island, Co. Limerick. If you are able, please support the event.

Butterfly sanctuary opening day.

The butterfly sanctuary official opening day is 6th June at 2.p.m. Meet at the sports centre, all are welcome. A guided tour will be lead by Geoff Hunt of Birdwatch Ireland.

This will be the first butterfly sanctuary in Ireland. Aughinish Alumina has developed a disused quarry for the benefit of the butterflies found on the island. Three of these are of conservation concern; Small Blue, Dingy Skipper and Grayling. The food plant for the Small Blue and Dingy Skipper (Kidney Vetch and Bird's foot trefoil) can be found in abundance. On the day we should also find many other species including Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Wall Brown, Common Blue, Small Heath and various whites. We will also look at a proposed area for a dragonfly sanctuary. I will be able to catch these in a net for a close look at them. The walk will also be looking at the wild flowers and birds in the area.

A list of recommendations has been sent to Aughinish Alumina to improve their Nature Reserve which include A butterfly sanctuary, a dragonfly sanctuary, a new bird hide overlooking the Shannon Estuary, extended walkways, the planting of cereal and creation of a hay meadow and putting up more nest boxes and bird feeders.

2nd June

Yesterday was a momentous day in the history of DragonflyIreland as the first books were delivered from the printers. Hopefully books will be delivered as soon as possible to those who have requested copies.

The last few weeks have seen a spell of warm, dry weather. Wetlands are drying rapidly and many bogs and fen pools are already empty of water. I was in the Burren last week and the vegetation on the limestone pavement was visibly suffering from the lack of rain. I didn't get an opportunity to look at any of the turloughs, but they must also be nearly empty.

Calopteryx virgo One at Newcastle West, Co Limerick, 30th May (Geoff Hunt)

Calopteryx splendens Three at Rathkeale, Co Limerick 24th May (Geoff Hunt). Six on the River Bann at Dyne's Bridge, Portadown Co. Armagh 29th May (Ian Rippey).

Coenagrion puella An unusually patterned male was seen at Ballinruan, Co. Clare on 26th May. It had a very blue abdomen with hardly any black on segments 6 and 7. Unusual Enallagma cyathigerum are a common sight, but this is the oddest puella I've ever seen.

Coenagrion lunulatum Many males at Drumnahavil Bog Co Armagh/Monaghan 26th May. At least 1 was seen on the Co. Monaghan side with about 6 in an indeterminate area on the Co. Armagh/Monaghan border, but there were probably at least 20 on the Co. Armagh side, of which about 15 were around 2 pools north of the road which were created or enlarged in 2003, I believe. Only males were seen; several were a little immature in that the green on the side of the thorax was not visible (Ian Rippey). Large numbers (30+) at the Montiaghs Moss National Nature Reserve, Co. Antrim 1st June (Ian Rippey et al.)

Ischnura pumilio A mature male at Tonnagh Quarry near Derrygonnelly Co. Fermanagh, 22nd May, the most reliable site in Northern Ireland for the species (Ian Rippey).

Brachytron pratense Seen widely around Lough Mask, Lough Corrib and in the Burren 24th - 27th May. A group of 15 or so adults were feeding along a short section of track through conifer plantation at Ballinruan, 13km NE of Ennis, Co. Clare 26th May (Brian Nelson and Maurice Hughes). This is the second time I have recorded such large feeding aggregations early in the season and it appears this is a common habit.

Orthetrum cancellatum Immature adults at several sites around Lough Mask, Corrib and in the Burren, 24th - 27th May (Brian Nelson and Maurice Hughes). Like the Hairy Hawker, this species commonly occurs amongst open hazel scrub in the Burren and other karst areas, often some distance from water.

19th May

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula Tacumshin 2nd May (Peter Doyle)

Common Blue Enallagma cyathigerum 17th May many emerging Craigavon Lakes Co. Armagh (Brian and Calum Nelson).

Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella First seen by Angus Tyner on 8th May at Ashford, Co. Wicklow. 16th May Portumna Forest Park, Co. Galway, some amongst '100's of damselflies' (Alex Copland). Also reported from Armagh and Wexford (Ian Rippey, Chris Wilson).

Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum 16th May Ballinafagh, Co. Kildare (Peter Doyle). 17th May Montiaghs Moss, Co. Antrim and 18th May Peatlands Park Co. Armagh (Ian Rippey).

Hairy Hawker Brachytron pratense 8th May, female, Great Saltee, Co. Wexford (Peter Doyle). 16th May, Knockmore, Co. Fermanagh (Robert Northridge). 16th May, Ballinafagh, Co. Kildare (Peter Doyle).

Finally the following message from a Dutch visitor, Hein Sommer.

'On 8th May I saw some nice dragonflies on Roundstone Bog (County Galway). First I spotted a Libellula quadrimaculata, looking fresh. Quite nearby a dragonfly with a thin body and a yellow line on top, which I cannot better describe than like this, because it was very shy and the terrain was too wet to follow him. My first impression was a Gomphus. The next day I had to hurry to my plane back to the Netherlands. Back home I realised that I should have seen a Brachytron pratense. The only thing is, that the Hairy Dragonfly has a bit more sturdy figure and his flight is usually a bit different. I express my hope, that somebody may be around to have another look.
Now I will describe the place. When you go from around Clifden on the road through the bog to the east, this road eventually joins the road to Roundstone. One km before is a point on the bog road, from which a little unsurfaced road runs south for a few hundred meter (dead end). Along that little road we saw the L. quadrimaculata. From the same point mentioned above we walked to the ruins of a little house just a hundred meters or so in northerly direction (you can see it from the road). After 50 meters we saw the unknown dragonfly. Around the ruined house we saw a nice gathering of Green Hairstreaks.'

10th May

After a slow start compared to last spring, more species have emerged. Large Reds have been seen widely in Donegal, Down and Limerick (Geoff Hunt, Ian Rippy, Terry Tedstone).

Enallagma cyathigerum Common Blue 1st May Ashford, Co. Wicklow (Angus Tyner)
Ischnura elegans Blue-tailed 3rd May Ashford, Co. Wicklow (Angus Tyner)
Brachytron pratense Hairy Hawker 9th May The Raven Co. Wexford (Chris Wilson)
Libellula quadrimaculata Four-spotted Chaser 9th May The Raven Co. Wexford (Chris Wilson)

27th April

The first damselflies of the year have been reported, as usual the Large Red Pyrrhosoma nymphula. One was seen near Newcastle Co. Wicklow (per Angus Tyner) on the 24th, with a teneral seen the next day in Co. Down (Ian Rippey).

Last year this species was seen on the exceptionally early date of 15th April, so this year's first date is not so unusual. It is however apparent from the DragonflyIreland data that emergence of Pyrrhosoma nymphula (and other spring species of odonate) is about 10 days earlier than in the 1980s. Summer species show a less pronounced trend of earlier emergence. This will be included in the forthcoming book The Natural History of Ireland's Dragonflies which is due for publication in June.

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