Dragonflies and Damselflies of Shropshire........
There are currently 27 species of the order odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies) which with a little effort and knowledge of suitable sites, can be found within Shropshire. Images of all these breeding species can be studied in this gallery. An exciting addition to the County list during the end of May / early June 2012 was the sudden apperance of at least five Red-veined Darters at Venus Pool. Sadly they were too far out over the pool to allow for quality images.
The more common breeding species are likely to be seen almost anywhere in the County (usually but not always near water) during the Summer months, others occupy quite specialised habitats and a well timed visit to a specific location may be necessary to see them.
This page is intended as an image gallery suitable for identification purposes but also contains my favourite images. The most commonly found species, sorted by type and approximate size, are listed in the left hand menu. The species gallery will cover the main identification criteria, habitats and locations plus the best time to see them.
I've tried to avoid too many anatomical terms but knowledge of a few are essential for identification purposes. These are detailed on the illustration below.....
The abdomen is divided into ten segments, numbered in sequence form the thorax (S1 - S10). The markings or colours on individual segments may provide important information for identification purposes. Similarly, the presence or absence of coloured stripes on the shoulder of the thorax (antehumeral stripes) can be an useful identification feature.
Once bitten by the Dragon and Damsel bug, a reference guide is an essential part of the identification process and I'm still learning!! Luckily there are two first class field guides available: A fieldguide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain by Steve Brooks is a classic with top quality illustrations. Britains Dragonflies by Dave Smallshire and Andy swash is a new (2010) publication and absolutley stunning! Filled with colourful photographic images, all tastefully montaged plus pages of identification criteria methodically laid out.
I haven't 'twitched' one yet but some of the rare vagrants look very appealing.......
The Summer months can be a quiet time on the birding scene with little excitement from passage birds. What better way to spend time than taking an interest in the local Dragons and Damsels! These fascinating insects can be seen almost anywhere but usually near water during the breeding season. Several sites can be recommended to seek out rare or unusual species.
Whixall Moss NNR is a site of national importance as it remains one of very few sites in England where the White-faced Darter breeds. It is a haven too for many other species with a preference for acidic boggy conditions. The ditches present on the left after walking in on the track from Moss Cottages are recommended as a starting point. Common Hawker, Emerald Damselfly, Black Darter and many other species will also be seen as the season progresses.
Cramer Gutter on Catherton Common features a natural spring fed acidic bog, creating conditions to the liking of Keeled Skimmer and Golden-ringed Dragonfly.
The River Severn at Atcham is typical of many stretches with slow flow where Common Club-tail, Banded Demoiselle and White-legged Damselfly may be found. Large numbers may be seen at emergence time from the end of May onwards.
Berrington Pool near Cross Houses is a small pool with abundant reed beds and surface vegetation. Red-eyed Damselfly Blog images can be seen here and Variable Damselfly may be found here throughout the Summer months plus a wide range other species including the Emperor Dragonfly.
The fast flowing Rea Brook with it's gravel bottom is a perfect habitat for Beautiful Demoiselle. Combine a look for Dipper at Longnor bridge in early June and hopefully witness the amazing spectacle of a big emergence!
Venus Pool is typical of many habitats suitable for a good range of species, no great rarities but a good cross section of species including Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad-bodied and Four-spotted Chaser, Common and Ruddy Darter. Images from a typical visit, featuring Darter images can be seen here.
Shropshire boasts an impressive list of breeding species. I covered the above six sites on the 10th July 2010 and ended up with a species tally of 18 for the day - with luck, a few more are possible at that time of year? For details of species seen and images from the day, check out the blog entry for the 2010 Odonata race! Lets see if I can hit the '20+' mark in 2011? A typical August session resulted in the best images I've managed of Migrant Hawker both posing and in flight!
It's also worth checking out the Shropshire Dragonflies blog within the website for news of recent sightings!
All images are strictly copyright and may not be used for any purpose without my permission.
All images are available for publication. Webpage images are set to low resolution and may be crops from original images. Files (full frame) are availble for picture editors to suit the particular needs. I am also able to supply prints on request (ideal for gifts or framing) in a range of sizes. Please email me for further details.