Monday, 21 June 2010

DRAGONFLY: Emperors (Anax imperator) at Brockholes, Lancashire

June 20, 2010:
A warm and sunny Sunday morning appeared promising for dragonflies so a walk round some of the more remote pools at Brockholes with Allen Holmes seemed likely to produce good results. A stiff breeze from the north-west at first kept numbers down but later when this subsided, several species were seen. Perhaps of greatest interest was the presence of at least seven male Emperors distributed over three of the smaller pools. All had clearly defined territories and immediately drove off approaching males as well as the frequent Black-tailed Skimmers. The Emperors flew very quickly but at one stage, and quite unusually, a male settled on a bank giving a rare opportunity for a photograph.

A female Emperor could be seen ovipositing on submerged water-weed towards the middle of one of the pools, remaining stationary for a while and bending and inserting its lower abdomen into the water, occasionally buzzed by a male Black-tailed Skimmer.

[Emperor ovipositing, buzzed by a male Black-tailed Skimmer below]

On another occasion a female Broad-bodied Chaser also oviposited but used a different technique to the Emperor, very briefly dipping and trailing its abdomen over the water surface, moving on all the time, and attended and protected throughout by a male.

[Broad-bodied Chaser ovipositing, male above]

Common Blue and Blue-tailed damselflies, Four-spotted Chasers and a single Banded Demoiselle were also seen as well as Small Tortoiseshell and Large Skipper butterflies. Thanks to Allen whose sharp eyes spotted the perched male Emperor (and much else).

[Black-tailed Skimmer, male]

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