Saturday 14th July was the date in the diary for one of this years Yorkshire Branch of the British Dragonfly Societies field trips. Treeton Dyke was chosen as a venue following a previous field trip to this site, along with the outside chance of seeing Lesser Emperor Dragonfly Anax parthenope a rare potential breeder here. This species was first recorded in Britain as recently as 1996 and has become a more frequent visitor to this country. In 2006 there were a number of records from several Yorkshire sites, with breeding activity noted. Again in 2009 there were several Yorkshire records, surprisingly from the same sites that held this species in 2006. Was there a chance that this species was breeding, and being at the northern edge of it’s range, taking three years to emerge? The only way to find out was to organise a field trip to one of these few sites in 2012, with the hope of an outside chance of connecting with this species. Unfortunately the weather this year has severely knocked back the larger species, so it was always a rather long chance that we would connect with one. There is still a chance that some could appear, as several of the larger species are emerging later this year, so there is still time over the coming weeks to see if this species is present.
All in all, nine species of odonata were observed during the day, and in the current climate this can certainly be deemed as a good day. Good numbers of Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum were obvious, with several tenerals recently emerged. Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans were easily found, along with a few Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa. Only one Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella was observed. Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum and Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum recently emerged were flushed from the tall grasses, quickly settling to allow close observation and the opportunity to see the differences between these two similar species. The walk back along the eastern edge gave better opportunities to see Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma najas. As the day warmed up a couple of Brown Hawkers Aeshna grandis began hunting in one of the clearings. As the trip came to a close two Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens were observed, along the main track to the water ski centre.
Female Emerald Damselfly – Lestes sponsa
Male Azure Damselfly – Coenagrion puella
Male Common Blue Damselfly – Enallagma cyathigerum
Male Blue-tailed Damselfly – Ischnura elegans
Female Ruddy Darter – Sympetrum sanguineum
The steady pace of the walk around the dyke gave opportunities to see other invertebrates, butterflies being well represented with seven species on the wing, again a good number considering how they are struggling with the weather this year. Those present included Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris, Large White Pieris brassicae, Common Blue Polyommatus icarus, Comma Polygonia c-album, Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus, Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina and Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus. Several individuals of the day flying moth, Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet Zygaena lonicerae was also observed. One of the moths in the photo has managed to secure a passenger, or is about to become lunch for a lucky spider.
Small Skipper – Thymelicus sylvestris
Large White – Pieris brassicae
Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet – Zygaena lonicerae
As well as the butterflies and moths I managed to photograph a few Hoverfly species, the identifications open to comment as this can be a tricky group to identify.