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Dragonflies and Damselflies

Dragonflies and damselflies love it at Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve. So this is an important site for these captivating insects. Visit the reserve between mid to late spring and late autumn and you are likely to see some.


You may see damselflies slowly drifting amongst the vegetation, some like tiny glowing strip lights. You may see blue, red, orange, yellow and brown dragonflies dart across your path. They hover in mid-air momentarily, before streaking off at great speed.Michael Brighton

In 2018 a comprehensive survey confirmed that at least 16 species of dragonflies and damselflies live at Portbury Wharf. The surveys will continue so as to gain an insight into their breeding success at Portbury Wharf.  Please click Dragonfly Surveys to read more about this.


The sixteen species at PWNR

The list of species identified at PWNR includes 6 damselflies and 10 dragonflies:

The Damselflies:

NB Please click on images to enlarge.


 Species   When and Where to see it   How easy to see at PWNR 
Large Red Damselfly May-June

Pools and ditches with plenty of vegetation growth.

Reasonable chance
This damselfly was only seen in May, in small numbers, during the 2018 survey.

Azure Damselfly


In vegetation by the sides of sunny paths and water. Fields. Widespread over many parts of PWNR

Easy to see
Easily confused with Common Blue Damselfly.
Common Blue Damselfly May-August

In vegetation by the sides of sunny paths and in meadows. Widespread over many parts of PWNR. Sometimes seen in small loose ‘groups’ over water.

Easy to see
Easily confused with Azure Damselfly.
Blue-tailed Damselfly May-August

In vegetation along the sides of paths, water and in fields. Check patches of brambles around the South Pools hide.

Easy to see
Look for a dark body with single blue segment close to the end of the abdomen.
Emerald Damselfly

Likes ponds and other standing water with plenty of luxuriant growth of rush, grass or sedge. Look from the South Hide at the pool edges in front of the hide. Also try looking from the boardwalk by Frog Pond.

Reasonable Chance
Small red-eyed Damselfly July-August

This is a rare damselfly at PWNR. Sometimes seen on, or flying above, floating pondweeds and algae.

Difficult to see
This damselfly has rapidly expanded its range from the south east of England. It could become more common at PWNR.

The section below is under construction . . .

The Dragonflies:

  • Common Darter
  • Ruddy Darter
  • Broad-bodied Chaser
  • Four-spotted Chaser
  • Scarce Chaser
  • Black-tailed Skimmer
  • Migrant Hawker
  • Southern Hawker
  • Hairy
  • Emperor

There could well be more that the survey missed, or future new additions! We know that Banded Demoiselles frequent a nearby rhyne and Brown Hawkers have previously been seen on the reserve.

We are still adding information to this page . . . please come back soon.



Dragonflies evolved over 300 million years ago. That is 100 million years before dinosaurs roamed the earth. They were giants then with a wing span of up to two feet (60 cm)!

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Looking for dragonflies

After a very quiet start to the season, last week’s survey of PWNR turned out to be one of our best. Some surprises included a Red-veined Darter (well done Dave) on the North Pools. It’s an uncommon species… Read More