Thursday, 15 August 2013

Wragg's Quarry Dragons

After our ringing session yesterday the sun came out and the temperatures soared to an amazing 20 degrees, so I popped up to Wragg's Quarry on Beeley Moor to search for some elusive dragonflies. I read a very good blog , which had some sightings of the two species I wanted to see, and is definitely worth a read.

Pond at Wragg's Quarry

As soon as I arrived I spotted my first species and a "lifer"; Common Hawker. This large dragonfly is very active, rarely settling for more than a few seconds, so I was very pleased when a stunning male took time out of patrolling the small pond to sit on a rock.

Common Hawker
All in all I saw at least 5 male Common Hawkers over the small pond.

The other target species for the morning was Black Darter, and again I was very lucky to catch up with several dragons including this male and female "in tandem".

Male and female Black Darter
This pair are mating, a process that can take from 6 - 60 minutes(!), and the male will stay attached to the female whilst she lays the eggs or "oviposits" them into the vegetation in the pond. Darley Dales Wildlife has an excellent picture of a pair doing just that here.
As well as the pair, I also managed to find this lone male basking on a rock, close to the water. They are non-territorial, and often spend time perched up on vegetation, rocks and bare ground. Identification is pretty straight forward, as it is the only all-black dragonfly in Britain. As can be seen here, it also has black legs, a waisted abdomen and a black pterostigma (the black patch on the wings). A lovely insect. The Black Darter's favoured habitat is shallow, acidic, nutrient-poor pools on heathland and moorlands. This makes the pond at Wragg's Quarry ideal.

Male Black Darter
Other dragonflies seen today were; Common Darter and Emerald Dragonfly.

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