Sunday, 6 October 2019

A Visitor to the Mill

Things have been remarkably quiet the last few weeks. We are somewhat in the doldrums of birding on the site, the summer visitors have left and any of the possible winter visitors have yet to arrive. Mild weather however has kept the insect populations alive and well. Even today I still recorded a Red Admiral and there are multiple species of dragonfly present.

I have been having some difficulty with these larger dragonfly, this late in the year I usually see the odd Brown Hawker and the abundant Common Darter but over the last few weeks I have been seeing a number of greenish blue dragonfly. At first I assumed these were Emperors however their flight behaviour and size didn't seem to fit. I tried getting closer views but none seemed to help.

If they weren't Emperors which I only see in small numbers in high summer then that left perhaps Common Hawkers or Southern Hawkers. Then today I came across a pair of dragonfly locked together in mating in perfect sight. I took several photos and even a short video clip.

The images were perfect for identification showing clearly the eyes, thorax and key colours on the abdominal segments.

 A careful exploration of my guidebooks revealed that these dragonflies were Migrant Hawkers. It is known as a species of late summer and autumn and only became a British species since the 1940's and is continuing to expand north and westwards. In the south-east populations are still buoyed by migrants from the continent.

Its hawking pattern following a pattern is similar to that of the Emperor but it periodically breaks off and will hunt higher and deviate more from its path, fitting the behaviour I had noted. This is the first time I have managed to confirm a new dragonfly species on the site and I will have to review my notes from last year to see if some mis-identifications may have crept in.

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