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Miranda Hodgson

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Look out for Brown Hawker dragonflies visiting gardens

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 29 Jul 2011 at 02:30 PM

There are plenty of dragonflies to be seen at this time of year. One took a siesta in the courtyard the other day, a Brown Hawker - Aeshna grandis. It landed in the lime tree and high enough up that, even with the lens of the camera at full zoom, a clear picture could not be taken. Feeling a little silly, we got out the step ladder and half expected that the clatter of it being opened up and then climbing up for a closer view, would wake it and it would fly off before a photograph could be taken. As luck would have it, the dragonfly stayed asleep. That or it just didn’t care.

 

Brown Hawker dragonflies are fairly easy to identify; as their name suggests, they are brown, though with blue or yellow markings down the side of the body. The wings are transparent and are a shiny golden-brown. The dragonfly in the picture is a female and she can be distinguished from the male because the male has a marked waist, while the female’s body has none.

We’re lucky here to have mature trees around the house – though mainly in other gardens - as this attracts Brown Hawkers and they are known to hunt through them until well into the evening, looking for small flies to eat. When hunting over water, they will also take damselflies, so there are plenty of opportunities for spotting them and with a length of some 73mm (approx 2.8 inches), you can see them at a distance.

It was only after downloading the photographs and looking more closely that I noticed how the dragonfly was holding on. It had one foot braced against a leaf and, with two other feet, was clinging onto the felty surface of a lime seed pod. If you look, you can see the hooks on its feet. Very practical, I dare say, but not somewhere I would choose for a nap.

 

 

 

 

You can see Brown Hawker moths through much of the UK, apart from Scotland and some parts of the south west of England. They can be seen over water and amongst trees in parks and gardens and mainly fly from June to September.

Comments

pushkin said:

Fascinating, first sight ever of dragonfly feet!

on 29 Jul 2011 at 04:00 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

pushkin, now you'll have to find some dragonflies where you are and compare their feet!

on 29 Jul 2011 at 05:43 PM

Look out for Brown Hawker dragonflies visiting gardens | Gardening News said:

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on 29 Jul 2011 at 09:23 PM

richardpeeej said:

Lovely photographs Miranda and such patience to go and fetch the step ladder too. It is raining here at the moment so no doubt the dragonflies will be undercover somewhere. :-)

on 04 Aug 2011 at 04:41 PM

richardpeeej said:

Lovely Photographs Miranda. It is clear to see your patience in fetching a stepladder to get this shot. It is raining here at the moment so no doubt the dragonflies will be sheltering somewhere today ;-)

on 04 Aug 2011 at 04:44 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

I wonder where they do go when it rains? I've seen bees and flies sheltering on the underside of leaves, so maybe dragonflies do something similar.

on 06 Aug 2011 at 01:11 PM