Sunday, 3 April 2016

Dragonflies in Oxfordshire in 2016

The new dragonfly season should be starting in the next few weeks! 

The first species to appear are usually Damselflies, either the Large Red or Azure. In 2015 the first record wasn't until 27 April but in some years the middle of April sees the first teneral damselfies on the wing. 

Web page for 2016 Dragonfly news and Photographs
As the British Dragonfly Society (BDS) Recorder for Oxfordshire, I am again planning to collate records for dragonflies and damselflies in Oxfordshire and to regularly update a page on my website which aims to give the latest information on what is happening on the dragonfly and damselfly front in the County. 

To work well, this needs as many as possible to contribute their sightings so these can be shared with others. Photographs will also be added to break up the text.

So if you see or photograph any dragonflies or damselflies in Oxfordshire this season, please let me know, and I will post your records and photos at . 

This page also contains information on how to submit records both for the page and to the BDS, via their new preferred iRecord system. 

Topics for 2016

Club-tailed Dragonflies (or Common Clubtail)
This is a scarce and elusive species of dragonfly usually associated with slow moving rivers. Oxfordshire is fortunate to contain a section of the River Thames which is nationally important for this species. 

Mike Turton, the recorder for Berks, is concerned about the recent lack of records and is urging all county dragonfly enthusiasts to mount a special search for this species this year.

In Oxfordshire, this species has been recorded along most of the River Thames, certainly from as far upstream as Chimney Meadows all the way down to Caversham. Probably the prime area is between Goring/Streatley and Pangbourne. The railway bridge south of Goring is a site where they can, with luck, sometimes be seen emerging up the wall beneath the bridge, on the north (Oxon) side of the river. It is also important to remember that it can be occasionally found elsewhere - there is even a remarkable record from Otmoor in 2013 (Mike Flemming). 

This species is an early one, and sightings are generally confined to the second two weeks of May and the few week or two of June.

So if you fancy a walk along the Thames on a fine day in mid/late May, please keep a sharp eye out for any Club-tails and if you are fortunate enough to see one, please let me know straightaway where and when you saw it. 

Club-tailed Dragonfly emerging under Goring Railway Bridge on 23 May 2015 (c) Stephen Burch

Fully emerged Club-tailed Dragonfly  (c) Stephen Burch

Variable Damselflies
Last year, Martin Wackenier discovered a new colony of Variable Damselflies by the River Thames at Barton Fields near to Abingdon. Colonies of this species can be short lived but it will be interesting to see if any are still present in 2016. 

This is again an early season species and is probably best looked for from about mid May, before the more numerous commoner blue damselflies have had time to really get started. 

Variable Damselfly, Barton Fields, 13 June 2015 (c) Stephen Burch

Information on Dragonflies and Damselflies in the County
If you are new to dragonflies, you might find the section of my website devoted to dragonflies in the County of interest - at 

This has a number of separate pages including:
  • Where to find dragonflies in Oxfordshire – an updated site guide
  • An illustrated list of the dragonflies and damselflies in the County

Stephen Burch
BDS Dragonfly Recorder for Oxfordshire (VC23)

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