Skipwith Common – 05/08/2018

UntitledA sunny morning with a light westerly breeze, temperatures reaching 25 degrees C, greeted 29 attendees to the joint Dragonfly Walk hosted by the Yorkshire Dragonfly Group and the Freshwater Habitats Trust. Due to the continuing heatwave, many of the ponds had dried out. Most of the key species were however still present, making most of the heathland habitat. Starting with the Damselflies, Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa was the most abundant species of this group. The absence of water is no problem to this species as they lay their eggs in plant stems around the ponds margins. As they don’t hatch until the following spring, there will be plenty of time for the ponds to be replenished over the winter months. Another benefit of this strategy is that fish don’t survive the drying out process, meaning there will be less predators when the larvae finally drop into the water. Due to the lack of water, the only other species noted was a single Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans. Three species on Darters were noted over the heathland comprising Black Darter Sympetrum danae, Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum and Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum. The latter species was the most abundant species, with several mating pairs noted, along with tandem pairs ovipositing onto the damp soil in the dried out ponds. Four Hawkers were recorded around the reserve with Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea, Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta, Common Hawker Aeshna juncea and Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis all showing, some better than others.

Southern Hawker - Aeshna cyaneaMale Southern Hawker – Aeshna cyanea

Common Hawker - Aeshna junceaMale Common Hawker – Aeshna juncea

Migrant Hawker - Aeshna mixtaFemale Migrant Hawker – Aeshna mixta

Emerald Damselfly - Lestes sponsaMale Emerald Damselfly – Lestes sponsa

Black Darter - Sympetrum danaeFemale Black Darter – Sympetrum danae

Ruddy Darter - Sympetrum sanguineumMale Ruddy Darter – Sympetrum sanguineum

Common Darter - Sympetrum striolatumFemale Common Darter – Sympetrum striolatum