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Reddish Vale Country Park

The common Darter is a summer/autumn species and can be found as late as November, and is probably the last species to be seen flying in the year.

 

Common Darters can be found near ponds and other still, stagnant water, they are also frequently found away from water, resting on the tops of plants in woodland margins.

 

This small Dragonfly is seen in a wide variety of habitats, including lakes, ponds, canals and slow-flowing rivers. They are ambush predators, waiting on a prominent perch - such as a leaf or the top of a gate, until prey fly past, whereupon they will fly after it. They are territorial on breeding waters, often attempting to chase much bigger Dragonflies away such as Southern Hawkers. This habit of repeatedly returning to a sunny spot allows you to easily predict where they are going to land, which is why it is one of the easiest dragonflies to photograph.

 

In suitable hunting areas away from water, however, they are not territorial: large numbers may assemble - groups of several hundred in a single field have been recorded - and lines of insects can be seen along the top of field gates.

 

Eggs are not laid, but broadcast from the air: the male holds the female in tandem and swings her down and forward over water at a height of around 40cm. At the furthest point of the arc the female releases some of her eggs to fall on the water.

A dragonfly is an insect belonging to the order Odonata, the suborder Epiprocta or, in the strict sense, the infraorder Anisoptera. It is characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings, and an elongated body. Dragonflies are similar to damselflies, but the adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings of most dragonflies are held away from, and perpendicular to, the body when at rest. Dragonflies possess six legs (like any other insect), but most of them cannot walk well. Dragonflies are some of the fastest insects in the world.

 

Dragonflies are valuable predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants, and very rarely butterflies. They are usually found around lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands because their larvae, known as "nymphs", are aquatic.

 

Dragonfly

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Brown Hawker Dragonfly

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Common Darter Dragonfly 

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The Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) is a large dragonfly about 73 millimetres (2.9 in) long. It is a distinctive species and is easily recognised, even in flight, by its brown body and bronze wings. At rest, blue spots on the second and third segments of the male's abdomen can be noticed; these are absent in female.

 

It is widespread in England but commonest in the South East; local in Ireland and rare in Scotland. It is found on well-vegetated ponds, lakes and canals. It patrols a regular hunting territory around margins which is vigorously defended against intruders.

 

The flight time is mainly July to September. The nymph has stripes on the side of the thorax and distinct banding on the legs.

 

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Reddish Vale Country Park

Broad-Bodied Chaser Dragonfly 

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The Broad-bodied Chaser, Libellula depressa, is one of the most common dragonflies in Europe and central Asia. It is very distinctive with a very broad flattened abdomen, four wing patches and, in the male, the abdomen becomes pruinose blue.

The male and female have a broad, flattened abdomen which is brown with yellow patches down the sides. In the male the abdomen develops a blue pruinosity which covers the brown colour. Both fore and hind wings have a dark patch at the base. Both the male and female have broad antehumeral stripes. The average wingspan is approximately 70mm.

The flight period is from April to September but are mostly seen in May and June. Their flight is very fast as they dart and dive above the water. They are very territorial and will fight with rival males and any other dragonflies they happen to encounter. They characteristically return to a favoured perch, in the sun. When a female enters a male's territory the male will fly up and grab the female. Mating occurs on the wing and the pair are in tandem for only a brief period, often less than a minute. The pair separate and the female will find a suitable location for ovipositing, usually a stretch of open water with submerged vegetation. The female oviposits in flight, hovering above the water and dipping the tip of her abdomen in. The eggs hatch in 4 or 5 weeks and the larvae take one to two years to develop. The larvae live in the silt and detritus at the bottom of the pond, lying buried in mud with just the head and eyes showing. After emergence the adults move away from water and undergo a period of maturation which lasts 10 to 14 days.

 

 

 

 

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Dragonfly