Saturday, November 5, 2011

Alderney’s dragonfly

Anyone visiting Alderney and hoping to see some dragonflies would do well to head for Mannez, in the east of the island, although true enthusiasts will want to contact kindred spirits at the Alderney Wildlife Trust (
Common Darter or Sympetrum striolatum (36p) is a resident species which most of us in the British Isles have probably seen, had we but known it.

The Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) is a dragonfly of the family Libellulidae native to Eurasia. 
It is one of the most common dragonflies in Europe, occurring in a wide variety of water bodies, though with a preference for breeding in still water such as ponds and lakes.

The Emperor Dragonfly or Anax imperator is(45p) a large and powerful species of hawker dragonfly of the family Aeshnidae, averaging 78 millimetres  in length . It is found mainly in Europe and nearby Africa and Asia.

Males have a sky blue abdomen marked with a diagnostic black dorsal stripe and an apple green thorax. Females have a green thorax and abdomen. The species lives by larger ponds, gravel pits, and slow rivers.
They frequently fly high up into the sky in search of prey, which includes butterflies, Four-spotted Chasers and tadpoles; small prey is eaten on the wing. The females lay the eggs into plants such as pondweed, and always lay alone.


The Blue-tailed Damselfly or Ischnura elegans (56p) is a European damselfly.
Another colourful character which, perfectly at home in Alderney, can also be found as far away as the Middle East, Russia and even China.

Mating wheel of Ischnura elegans - At the top the male
Adult male Blue-tailed Damselflies have a head and thorax patterned with blue and black. They have a largely black abdomen with very narrow pale markings where each segment joins the next. Segment eight, however, is entirely pale blue.

The Brown Hawker or Aeschna grandis (66p) 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.
It is not resident species but probably a visitor from France. 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 Black-tailed Skimmer or Orthetrum cancellatum (75p) is a  local species, the males of the species selecting territories up to 50 metres long and patrolling them tirelessly.
The adult male has a blue abdomen with a black tip and transparent wings, and the female has a yellow (later: brown) body with black bands along the abdomen and transparent wings.

The Red Veined Darter or Sympetrum fonscolombii (83p) is It is a common species in southern Europe and from the 1990s onwards has increasingly been found in northwest Europe, including Britain and Ireland.
A rare visitor, spotted in both 2006 and 2007, fuelling speculation that it was breeding at Mannez.
Males have a red abdomen, redder than many other Sympetrum species. 

The wings have red veins and the wing bases of the hind-wings are yellow. The pterostigma are pale with a border of black veins and the underside of the eye is blue/grey.The female is similar but the abdomen is yellow, not red, and the wings have yellow veins, not red veins as found in the males. (Resources: Alderney Post, Wikipedia)

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