Thursday, 15 December 2016

2016 Dragonfly records & BDS 2017 Club-tail survey

2016 records and review

With the 2016 season surely at end, now is the time for submitting any outstanding Oxon dragonfly records for this year either to myself or iRecord. For my contact details, see the 2016 dragonfly page on my website.

Unfortunately 2016 was not a particularly notable year for dragonflies in the county, with below average numbers. Probably the mediocre weather was mostly to blame.

The season got off to a fairly slow start, and it wasn't until 30 April that the first Large Red Damselfly was reported by the Robys and David Hastings.

Thereafter most of the early season action was in the Abingdon area. Following the discovery in 2015 of a new site for Variable Damselflies around a small pool by Barton Fields, further records were obtained this year, but numbers were generally down.

The season's county highlight was probably  the discovery of Downy Emeralds at the same pool by first Ian Green who located an exuvia and then Martin Green who found an adult.

Downy Emerald at Barton Fields (c) Stephen Burch

Hairy Dragonflies continue to spread, and were seen at the same Barton Fields pool and at their regular site of Otmoor, where they favour the Roman Road. 

Good numbers of Club-tailed Dragonfly exuviae were found on one date at the traditional site of Goring Railway Bridge but as usual sightings of the elusive adults were very few and far between.

The Cothill Fen/Parsonage Moor/Dry Sandford Pit complex again produced their county scarcities  - Small Red Damselfly, Keeled Skimmer and Southern Damselfly, although late season observers found worryingly low water levels at Cothill Fen and Parsonage Moor.

The sad decline of Shellingford Pit unfortunately continued in 2016 although a small number of Small Red-eyed Damselflies managed to hang on there for another year. With ever declining water levels at this site, their future here, and in the county as a whole, looks uncertain.

As often has been the case in recent years, the season continued into November, with the last record of a Common Darter on 13 November (David Hastings).

2017 BDS Club-tail survey along the Thames in Oxfordshire

In 2017, the British Dragonfly Society (BDS) are planning to organise a thorough survey of the River Thames along its full length through the county. This will be a considerable undertaking as they are aiming to repeat the methodology used for a survey of the River Severn in Shropshire in 2016, which was at a 1km x 1km square (monad) resolution. As there are well over a hundred of these squares along the Thames in Oxfordshire, we will be looking for as many volunteers as possible - to survey squares for exuviae and adults on multiple visits.

Emerging Club-tail (c) Stephen Burch

Club-tail exuvia (c) Stephen Burch

Further details on this survey will follow in the new year, but if you have any interest in participating please don't hesitate to contact me now. Lets hope for better weather during the 2017 season!

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