Dragonflies in the September sunshine

We’ve had a few beautiful days, and the dragonflies have been enjoying it as much as our guests staying at Wheatland Farm’s eco lodges.

It’s easy to forget that later summer and early autumn can be just as good for dragonflies as May and June. OK, so the beautiful emperor dragonflies are gone now, but they have been replaced by the even more spectacular southern hawkers, the males showing off bright yellow ‘headlights’ on their thorax and colourful blue and black abdomens. This particular species is quite fearless around people, often flying right up to watchers and even perching on them, and commonly zapping around holiday guests walking on the paths at Wheatland Farm. Presumably these colourful insects are hunting along the mown tracks through the longer grass, searching out smaller insects to eat. This one rested briefly on a bramble, but it’s not quite as good a shot as the one we found by the fishing pond a year or so ago that we could photograph with a mobile phone.

Shows a male southern hawker dragonfly on bramble leaves at Wheatland Farm's Devon Eco Lodges

Another species that can be spotted away from the ponds is the golden ringed dragonfly. It’s not especially numerous here, partly as its breeding habitat is streams and rivers rather than ponds, but it turns up every year with it’s striking yellow and black. This one was looking a bit weary in early September, and perched conveniently close, showing off its lovely green eyes.

Then there are the slightly smaller migrant hawkers, with their neat blue and black colourations. That’s the species used for the main image for this post. These you’re most likely to see at the water’s edge, though they can be hard to catch at rest (and sometimes they move around their perch to hide!).

Shows a migrant hawker edging away from the viewer, around its perch

But amongst the most numerous on a sunny day are the bright scarlet male common darters. Common darters are another ‘friendly’ species, and will sometimes land on holidaymakers sitting quietly and taking in the sunshine. They are around longest each season, so come half term, if we have some decent weather, they could still be about.

Shows a male common darter resting on a bramble twig