Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Dragonflies and Damselflies

 'The Dragonflies of Sussex', has prompted  this entry on finding several rarities among the species recorded last summer. The following were seen along the woodland ride which is 50 to 100 metres from Hawkins Pond -  a part of the headwaters of the River Arun.

Click on photos to enlarge

Small Dragonflies

Scarce Chaser Libellula fulva Male

British Red Data Book listed and Sussex Rare Species Inventory.
Nationally restricted to ten river systems including the River Arun. Records up to 2003 show this species abundant between Amberley and Billingshurst but only sightings in four tetrads more northerly the northernmost being near Slinfold which is about six miles away.  Its habitat is slow moving water and ponds and prefers sunny sheltered spots with plenty of vegetation, such as the woodland ride.

Downy Emerald Cordulia aenea Male

British Red Data Book and Sussex Rare Species Inventory
Nationally rare with a stronghold in the south-east there are just a sprinkling of recordings in Sussex although there are a number in the Old Copse vicinity.It has a preference for nutrient-poor, acidic, tree-lined or woodland (usually deciduous) ponds and lakes with overhanging branches.

Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum male
Nationally abundant and common in Sussex

Inhabits all forms of water.Adults require sunny hedgerows, woodland rides and clearings. Males are attracted to light coloured sun-bathing surfaces. This specimen was  spotted basking on a ride-side timber stack.

Large Dragonflies Also seen were:

Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis
Generally common in East Sussex. Numerous recordings in the vicinity.

It inhabits large and well vegetated lakes and ponds. A spectacular large bronze dragonfly that hawks to and fro along the ride without settling.

Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea
Large and dark brown. The male has many large green spots which are greenish yellow on the female.

Common in southern England and Wales. Common all over Sussex, even away from water.


Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteyx virgo male

Widespread in Sussex apart from the Downs although relatively uncommon. The nearest recording is in east Horsham. Habitat is fast flowing water with a stony bottom, such as the sluice and in Frenchbridge Ghyll which feeds the hammerpond. Also abundant bankside vegetation, typically alders which Old Copse has. They need open sunny glades.The female is brown.

White-legged Damselfly Platycnemis pennipes

Sussex Rare Species Inventory. One reference book indicates locally common south of The Wash whereas the new book says it's common south of The Wash. There are a sprinkling of recordings across the High and Low Weald with recordings in eight tetrads from slightly north of Old Copse to Buchan Country Park. Apart from a concentration on Ashdown Forest the most significant proportion of recording are along the middle and upper Arun.It appears to inhabit unpolluted and well vegetated, slow-moving rivers and streams, occaisionally lakes and ponds but more research is needed.This is a pale cream form - 'A pale coloured damselfly that looks like a flying matchstick'. The male is pale blue. The female pale green.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhooma nymphula Widespread in Britain and common in Sussex.

The first damselfly of the year to appear as early as April it is found almost anywhere there are suitable water bodies from ponds and lakes to the quieter stretches of fast flowing streams and rivers. It is particularly abundant on sluggish acid streams and seepages.