Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Hairy Dragonflies hit a new Yorkshire high

It wasn't so long ago that seeing a Hairy Dragonfly in Yorkshire involved going to a specific site and hoping that your luck was in and you would see one. It was probably close to extinction in Yorkshire, with those that did occur being so site specific, and inconspicious, that it was almost impossible to see one. Recently, thanks to the efforts of Paul Ashton at Broomfleet Washlands, East Yorkshire, it became known the species had a toehold in East Yorkshire, and in the last two years I've been fortunate to discover the species in number along Leven Canal with counts of 60+ in both 2010 and 2011.

Despite the lacklustre start to the 2012 Odonata season, and following Saturday's Yorkshire record count of Azure Damselfly at nearby Tophill Low NR, I decided to walk and count Leven Canal for Hairy Dragonflies. Expecting good numbers in the sunny weather, I admit was surprised to not only set a new county record total for the species, but to break three figures, as the final total amounted to a minimum of 193 individual Hairy Dragonflies!!! Yes... 193 Hairy Dragonflies! A count almost three times as high as the previous site, and Yorkshire, record!!! Please bear in mind that only around six or seven years ago seeing one was a major record!

It wasn't only Hairy Dragonflies that were apparent in good number. Sometimes you just hit the right day for a good numbers, and a total of 219 Four-spotted Chasers will probably be up there among the higher counts of the species at a single site in the county. The majority appeared to be fresh individuals. though some appeared worn, and despite the weather, have probably been out for a prolonged period.

There were also plenty of Red-eyed Damselflies along the length of the canal, with a count of 679. The majority of these were adults on lilypads, though there was a good number of tenerals coming off, including this one below.

Red-eyed Damselfly was once considered the signature species of Leven Canal... I think all that changed as this has now become the site to see Hairy Dragonfly in Yorkshire... if you can find them!

Despite 2012 being the earliest ever start to an Odonata season in Yorkshire... my guess is this weekend the 2012 season really kicked off.

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