Local bird-watchers Ian Stewart and Ralph Todd turned their attentions – and lenses – to Dragonflies and Damselflies at Foots Cray Meadows on Friday (July 18th) with fantastic results. Eleven species were seen, two or three of which are new ‘formal’ site records, taking the total here to 14, on a par with Crossness. It is likely that the excellent new ponds created a couple of years ago have played a part in increasing this location’s Odonata fauna.
The most exciting find was Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata), for which a photograph was obtained. This confirms the presence of this species in the Borough, the only previous record being from Crossness sometime before 2009. Ralph says he’s also had it in his garden.
Southern Hawker, Broad-bodied Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmer, which were also seen, were predicted to occur here in the ‘Checklist of the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the London Borough of Bexley’, but someone still needs to go out and look and, more importantly, submit records to an appropriate authority!
Other Dragonflies seen were Emperor, Brown Hawker and Common Darter. Ruddy Darter was seen the day before.
Damselflies recorded were Banded Demoiselle, Common Blue, Blue-tailed and Azure.
Intriguingly, Ian also thinks he saw one of the species of Emerald Damselfly. Emerald itself (Lestes sponsa) is the most likely, not least on the grounds that it has been recorded in the Ruxley gravel pits area in the past. He also reports that he may have seen a White-legged Damselfly, which would be a new Borough record if it could be confirmed. The nearest previous records for this species are half way up the River Darent.
In the meantime, hosting 14 of the probable 18 species in the Borough isn’t bad going, and it’s possible that besides an Emerald, the Large Red Damselfly and Small Red-eyed Damselfly could also be found here. That Checklist is going to need some updating – but that’s what it’s there for, to stimulate more searching and more recording to improve our knowledge of Bexley’s wildlife.