Aston Lodge Residents Association

Dragonflies & Damselflies of Aston Lodge Park

by Dave Emley

Newt Pools, Lander Close
Newt Pools, Lander Close

Dragonflies and damselflies belong to that group of insects called the Odonata. They comprise the large-bodied and fast flying dragonflies and the more slender, slower-flying damselflies. At rest, dragonflies hold their wings out from the body, whereas damselflies hold them above the body. They all need water in which to lay their eggs, but they can wander some distance from that habitat in search of food, or looking for a breeding site. The larvae can spend up to two years in the water and are voracious predators.

On Aston Lodge Park, our best site for them is the Newt Pools off Lander Close. These were constructed by Fradley, the builder, in mitigation for loss of Great-crested Newt habitat, when the estate was built. They were supposed to have been looked after (and still should be), by him, but this has not been the case. This is a very valuable habitat and needs a lot of work.

The other habitat we have is the pool off Blackies Lane. I have seen dragonflies egg-laying there, but the water level is too unreliable for them to be successful. Other than that, there are pools in residents' gardens. Even if you do not have a pool of your own, it is still possible to see wandering dragonflies and damselflies in your garden, or even on the Grassy Patch. So here are the species I have seen on our estate.

Dragonflies

Brown Hawker

This is our commonest large dragonfly and the only one to have brown-tinged wings, so fairly easy to identify. We often see it over our garden.

Brown Hawker
Brown Hawker

Southern Hawker

Another common dragonfly. There are a number of species that have a spotted abdomen. This is the commonest and is recognised by the broad yellow stripes on top of its thorax.

Southern Hawker
Southern Hawker

Migrant Hawker

This is another of the dragonflies with a spotted abdomen. As its name suggests, it is a migrant species and large numbers can occur later in the year. It is also quite a small species, compared to other hawkers. So, a small hawker over your garden, late in the year and with only a small yellow mark on the thorax could be this species.

Migrant Hawker
Migrant Hawker

Emperor Dragonfly

Our largest dragonfly and one that is becoming increasingly common. The powder blue abdomen and apple-green thorax are distinctive. I have seen the male flying over the pond off Blackies Lane and the female laying eggs in the Newt Pool.

Emperor Dragonfly, male
Emperor Dragonfly, male
Emperor Dragonfly, female egg-laying in Newt Pool
Emperor Dragonfly, female egg-laying in Newt Pool

Common Darter

Darters are small versions of the hawker-type dragonflies. When at rest, they hold their wings out-stretched, but also angled forward and slightly downwards. This is the only member of the group I have seen here; on the Grassy Patch and in our garden. The males are bright red, the females yellowish-brown and they both have a pale stripe down their black legs. As the name the suggests, they are rapid fliers.

Common Darter, male
Common Darter, male
Common Darter, female
Common Darter, female

Broad-bodied Chaser

A distinctive, broad-bodied species, with broad powder-blue abdomen. I have only seen this by the Newt Pools.

Broad-bodied Chaser, male
Broad-bodied Chaser, male

Damselflies

Banded Demoiselle

Males are very distinctive, with the blue patch in the wings; females are greenish. This species is very common by the River Trent and may well wander up from there. We have seen it in our garden and on the Grassy Patch.

Banded Demoiselle, male
Banded Demoiselle, male
Banded Demoiselle, female
Banded Demoiselle, female

Large Red Damselfly

An unmistakeable species and the first to emerge in the spring. We have seen it in our garden and on the Grassy Patch.

Large Red Damselfly
Large Red Damselfly

Common Blue Damselfly

One of three common, blue-and-black damselflies on the estate. Telling this from the similar Azure Damselfly involves looking at the mark on the base of the abdomen (where it meets the thorax). In Common Blue, the mark is like a club or lollipop, whereas on Azure, it is like a square-bottomed "U".

Common Blue Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly

Azure Damselfly

One of three common blue-and-black damselflies on the estate. Telling this from the similar Common Blue Damselfly involves looking at the mark on the base of the abdomen (where it meets the thorax). In Common Blue, the mark is like a club or lollipop, whereas on Azure, it is like a square-bottomed "U". This can be very common on the Newt Pools.

Azure Damselfly
Azure Damselfly
Azure Damselfly and Common Blue Damselfly showing first abdominal segment mark
Azure Damselfly and Common Blue Damselfly showing first abdominal segment mark

Blue-tailed Damselfly

This can be the commonest damselfly on the Newt Pools. It is distinguished by the black body, with a blue tip to the abdomen. It sometimes wanders away from water.

Blue-tailed Damselfly, male
Blue-tailed Damselfly, male

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Copyright © - December 2021. Unless otherwise stated, images and text: David Emley. All rights reserved.