Updating the status and distribution of Hertfordshire's dragonflies

We are now well into the 2016 dragonfly flight season and the first sightings of scarcer species for the year have been made (Downy Emerald, Cordulia aenea, and Scarce Emerald Damselfly, Lestes dryas). Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, and we will have another interesting year.

It has now been over ten years since the end of the field work for the 2000-2005 Hertfordshire Dragonfly Atlas. The last decade (in particular the last few years) has been an exciting time for dragonfly enthusiasts within the county, with the occurrence of several species that had never previously been recorded in the county as well as others that went unrecorded for over 50 years.

While it is records of new, and scarce, species that are often considered most exciting, it is also likely that there have been changes in the distribution of some of the commoner, more widespread species in the county since the atlas survey. Records of all species are of interest, including records of the species that are most common and widespread. Please submit records of all dragonfly and damselfly species, preferably with a grid reference that identifies the 1km grid square where the species was recorded. Even records of low numbers of common species in garden ponds or ditches are of interest, in some regions there may be little other suitable habitat.

Ad hoc records can be useful, but if you visit sites regularly, and are confident with identification, consider submitting 'complete site lists'. Making lists of all of the species that you record during each visit encourages the inclusion of even the more common species with submitted records. Additional detail, such as the number of each species present and any breeding activity observed, is not essential but it can make records even more valuable (particularly the presence of emerging adults or the shed larval skins they leave behind). All records submitted via the HNHS will be added to the British Dragonfly Society database, so may help to assess national trends.

If you require any information on dragonfly recording please make contact using the following email address: dragonflies@hnhs.org

Lesser Emperor at Amwell & other recent news

Barry Reed had another excellent dragonfly find on 18th July 2016 when he found a male Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) at Amwell Nature Reserve, in Tumbling Bay.

This species was first recorded in Hertfordshire in July 2006 when a pair was seen at Hilfield Park Reservoir and one visited Wilstone Reservoir. There have since been further records at Hilfield Park Reservoir, but the species has remained a rare visitor to Hertfordshire.

Downy Emeralds at Tyttenhanger GPs

On 6th June Steve Murray had some brief sightings of one, perhaps two, emerald dragonflies at the scrape at Tyttenhanger gravel pits but was unable to confirm the species. Today (7th June 2016) he was able to obtain better views and confirm that at least two male Downy Emeralds were present.