David Talbot - Dragonflies in and around Arnside and Silverdale AONB

David Talbot - DRAGONFLIES 

These lovely insects are in the taxanomic order Odonata and this includes both dragonflies and the usually smaller damselflies. 

Other than size the key differences are: 

Dragonflies – wings always held out at right angles when at rest the two pairs of wings are a slightly different shape from each other eyes touching, looking ‘fused’

Damselflies – wings held close to body when at rest  both pairs of wings identical eyes clearly separated

Distribution – here in the north west we certainly have fewer dragonflies both in terms of species and quantity than further south; that said we are seeing increasing numbers finding their way north presumably due to a warming climate. Dragonflies and damselflies need water in which to breed but they can disperse over a wider area post breeding. Any area of wet landscape can be suitable; lakes, ponds, canals, rivers, marshes etc. Garden ponds are especially valuable and a great way to encourage dragonflies and other wildlife to your doorstep.

Species – there are nine species of dragonfly and 5 of damselfly regularly found within the Arnside and Silverdale AONB with several others close by in the broader area around Morecambe Bay. 

These are:


Common hawker not as common as name suggests but could be found anywhere

Southern Hawker probably the most regularly seen around here

Migrant hawker increasingly frequent, especially at Leighton Moss

Brown hawker again an increasing species, distinctive, only one with brown wings

Emperor a large mobile species constantly hawking over water

Broad-bodied chaser another one becoming more common throughout the area

Black-tailed skimmer stays closer to water, often rests on the ground

Four-spotted chaser common and very obliging as it rests up frequently on vegetation

Common darter brightly coloured, often rests on fences seen late into the season



Common blue damselfly can be found anywhere, very similar to Azure damselfly

Azure damselfly common throughout the area

Blue-tailed damselfly very common, easily identified damselfly

Large red damselfly very common & usually the first Odonata to appear in late Spring

Emerald damselfly later summer species holds its wings at 45 degrees


In addition to the above regulars there are other species spotted in the area:

Banded demoiselle damselfly – Lancaster canal

Beautiful demoiselle damselfly – Lyth valley/Brigsteer area

Keeled skimmer dragonfly – Bigland/Haverthwaite

Black darter dragonfly – common at Foulshaw

White-faced darter dragonfly – a rare dragonfly very successfully reintroduced to Foulshaw

Ruddy darter dragonfly – up until recently found in Silverdale but could be in the general area 

Red-veined darter dragonfly - a rare darter, summer migrant occasionally breeds at Middleton nr Heysham

Lesser emperor dragonfly – odd ones of this continental species recorded around Heysham harbour

Downy emerald dragonfly – Haybridge/Barkbooth Lot, Lyth valley


Book recommendations: good inexpensive publications include Britain’s Dragonflies (Wild Guides by Smallshire & Swash) and the excellent Bittern CCIC Atlas & Guide to Dragonflies of the AONB.

David Talbot

Beautiful Demoiselle 4, Haybridge 11 June 2018

Emerald Damselfly, Foulshaw Moss 9 August 2010

Large Red Damselfly, Garden 7 July 2013

Azure Damselfly, Brigsteer Wood 18 July 2015

Common Blue Damselfly, haybridge 19 August 2014

Common Hawker, Foulshaw Moss 11 August 2010

Southern Hawker, Haybridge 19 August 2014

Brown Hawker, Burton Wetlands, Cheshire 25 July 2013

Four Spotted Chaser, LMoss 3 May 2011

Broad-Bodied Chaser (m) Silverdale June 2009

Black-tailed Skimmer, Middleton 22 July 2014

<  |   TOP  |   >

Arnside and District Natural History Society
Designed by A2A Internet | Login