Thursday, 9 June 2016

Norfolk Hawker

Dragonflies seem to be in short supply in Sussex. We had another look for the Club-tailed at sites on the Arun on Wednesday but could find no sign of that or of the White-legged Damselfly. Even a quick relocation up to Thursley Common left us distinctly underwhelmed.

Strumpshaw Fenn, however, was a different story. Our main target was the Norfolk Hawker, a large brown dragonfly, with green eyes, that is found only in a small area around the fen-lands of east Norfolk. It was all very quiet when we first arrived but as the temperature increased more and more dragonflies appeared. They are very territorial, so get too many close together and it is almost impossible to get a picture. They don't settle and are constantly in skirmishes to protect their space.

Fortunately we found one Norfolk Hawker that was very obliging and gave us some good picture opportunities.

Norfolk Hawker

The only Dragonfly that you are likely to confuse with the Norfolk Hawker is the Brown Hawker, but this flies mid to late summer and does not have green eyes or the diagnostic yellow triangle on the second abdominal section.

There have been a few sightings of this dragonfly in Kent where it tends to be referred to by its name of Green-eyed Hawker which is perhaps more realistic given its largely European distribution.

We would have gone home happy with just a sighting of this dragonfly so it was great to be able to get some reasonable pictures. Our search also gave us a number of other good finds.

Black-tailed Skimmer  Immature male Scarce Chaser

Hairy Dragonflies

Scarce Chaser (female)

And, the ever present Four-spotted Chaser.

Four-spotted Chaser

Dragons and Damsels found at Thursley Common on Wednesday include

Keeled Skimmer

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Large Red Damselfly

Small Red Damselfly

And this looks like a Downy Emerald. There were a number flying but none would put down to give a chance of a picture. In the low light levels this was the best I could manage.

Downy Emerald

With the exception of the Strumpshaw Fen visit, Dragon and Damselfly encounters have been very slow so far this year. Lets hope we have now turned the corner and the next couple of weeks give me sightings of the Club-tailed Dragonfly and White-legged Damselfly. Check back for more information.


  1. A great set of photos. I would say your 'Black tailed Skimmer'is an immature male Scarce Chaser. I have been seeing lots of Norfolk Hawkers in Kent the past few days. Lots of photos here:

    1. Hi Marc

      Thanks for your comments. A good set not a great set. You have been on my blog list of sites to visit for sometime. I can look and learn but I have some way to go to achieve the quality of shot that you appear to be able to get on a regular basis. Checking my picture again, you are right, it is a Scarce Chaser. Thanks for the id and Westbere is on my list of places to visit.