September 22, 2017

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Continuing my series of Dragonflies and Damselfies, here’s the most often encountered species from the group of Darters.

I managed to spend a couple of hours at my local dragonfly spot early this afternoon, hoping to make the most of a brief sunny spell before the threatened rain and the continued onset of autumn. On the walk down, I was buzzed by a glorious looking Hawker racing along the hedgerow, swiftly followed by a less purposeful but equally un-photographable Darter. On arriving at the pond I set up the tripod and proceeded to be teased by a succession of Darters then cruelly mocked by a male Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta), who continually patrolled all around me, flatly refusing to land.

Thinking I’d try my luck away from the water as the females often only visit the pond to actually lay eggs, I wandered over to the bordering brambly scrub. I immediately spotted what I though was a female Common Blue butterfly feeding on some Ragwort and got a few shots. On closer inspection this evening and much head scratching, they’re hard to distinguish, this turned out to be a female Brown Argus (Aricia agestis) which was another new addition to my all taxa list. Excellent!

Whilst trying to photograph the future Argus, a Darter actually landed on my shoulder. Presumably to remind me what I was there for.

The first picture is a head on close up shot of a female Common Darter (S. striolatum). It turns out that this is a very useful angle for ID purposes because the ‘facial’ markings are a useful distinguishing characteristic.

The second image is of the same species, but of a pair mating in the copulation wheel position. I think this picture this is actually genuinely brilliant as I’ve not even seen them in tandem before, let alone in cop, and to be able to get a really close up shot like this is a terrific insight into a pretty alien world -for me anyway.

Comments

  1. Excellent photos, specially the copulation wheel. I was watching two dragonflies yesterday and hoping they might decide to mate but they didn’t!

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