Friday, 1 July 2011

Southern Damselfly (Coenagrion mercuriale) in Oxfordshire

June 30, 2011:
The Southern Damselfly is of rare occurrence in Britain, known only from a few localities in Wales, the New Forest and the Oxford area. Despite this, Britain is thought to hold 30% of the world population. It has very strict habitat requirements: pools, springs and flushes in calcareous fens. It is a weak flyer and rarely strays from its breeding grounds and in consequence is slow to re-colonise new localities.

The males are most easily distinguished from the other 'blue' damselflies by the characteristic marking on the second segment of the abdomen. This is the mercury mark, so called because of it similarity to the horned helmet associated with the Classic god Mercury.

Today, four males, a tandem pair plus a possible teneral were seen in warm but only occasionally sunny weather. The fen also had a marvellous display of the orchid Marsh Helleborine (Epipactis palustris).

[Habitat at the site]

[Marsh Helleborine]

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