For illustrated talks on natural history and history see

For illustrated talks on natural history and history click here for

Wednesday 25 July 2018

A smooth newt searching for dragonfly eggs in broad daylight?

 An Emperor dragonfly laid eggs in or on a dead iris flower stalk this morning in my garden pond.
That was a normal occurrence each year.
What happened next surprised me.
 A smooth nest surfaced on the stalk, which it crawled all over and around, in bright sunshine on the surface of the pond.
 Was it sniffing out a tasty morsel of freshly laid dragonfly eggs?  If not, as a usually nocturnal creature why risk predation from birds? For herons do drop in occasionally.

I have observed an Emperor being attacked and dragged under water by a gang of newts in this same pond before.  Whilst below, a dead Broad-bodied Chaser is being dismembered by a couple of newts as its juices are being sucked out by a pond chaser.

Newts are partial to dragonflies like this dead chaser in the same pond in an earlier year.  See

Perhaps this newt was simply looking for an egg laying dragonfly.  Its behaviour remains a mystery.
Click on any picture to expand it. for my talk on Dragonflies and damselflies.

Thursday 12 July 2018

Eight species of Damselflies and Dragonflies on a walk from Horsted Keynes in West Sussex

 On 11 July 2018, we (William Coleman and I) set off from Horsted Keynes in search of Odonata.  We walked sections of the Greenwich Meridian Trail and other paths and spotted eight Odonata species.  Above Four-spotted Chaser, Libellula quadrimaculata.
 Black-tailed Skimmer, male Orthetrum cancellatum.
 Black-tailed Skimmer and Common Blue Damselfly
 Common Blue Damselfly, Ellanagma cyanthigerum
 This Damselfly is what we had hoped to find --- a White-legged Damselfly, a male, Platycnemis pennipes.

 Blue-tailed Damselfly
 Gatekeeper butterfly on Fleabane, Pulicaria dysenterica.

 Azure Damselfly above.
 A fleeting shot of what may be a Downy Emerald, Cordulia aenea.  These are grainy images so any corrections are welcomed.

Danehill Brook feeds into this small, rather mucky looking pond, which had at least three species flying around: all difficult to identify from fuzzy pictures.
This just might be a Common Hawker female Aeshna juncea.  The abdomen colours don't look right to be a Brown Hawker.  If it is a Common Hawker then this is a rare sight in Sussex.  It is described as "largely absent from much of eastern and south-eastern England, which lacks suitable habitat."  Source: Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain and Ireland.
 If you expand this picture then you can see a blue and green dragonfly.
 It is possibly an Emperor, Anax imperator.
 Also flying around was what appears to be a pair of copulating dragonflies: which species though is unclear.  From the size and flying pattern perhapsthey are Black-tailed Skimmers but it is impossible to confirm that.

Click on any picture to expand it.  See also details of my illustrated talk at

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Dragonflies and Damselflies at Wakehurst and the Loder Valley, West Sussex, UK, 10 July 2018

 Black-tailed Skimmer male in the Loder Valley
 Over mature Black-tailed Skimmer female? on the footpath in the garden.
 The newly constructed board walk is spectacular.
 Common Blue Damselfly
 Female Common Blue damselfly drab form
 Another Common Blue amongst very many.
 Azure Damselflies tandem pair being harassed by a male.

A Blue-tailed Damselfly

A Meadow Grasshopper.

Butterflies of Wakehurst and the Loder Valley, West Sussex, 10 July 2018

 Some butterflies photographed in the meadows and woodland glades are shown here.  Damselflies and Dragonflies, beetle and grasshopper may be in a separate post.
No Purple Emperors or White Admirals were observed.  However observation time was limited by a desire to escape the attentions of horse flies.

Small White
Large White
Ringlets above and below

 Three Silver-washed Fritillaries were seen.

Meadow Brown
 Large Skipper

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