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Dragonfly Spotting Tips

Spotting Damselflies and Dragonflies at Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve

Some species such as Scarce Chaser and Southern Hawker are quite rare on the reserve so have only been spotted in very low numbers. Though you never know, you might be lucky!
Damselflies and dragonflies are amongst the most spectacular and charismatic insects found anywhere in the world. If you walk through the reserve on a warm, sunny day between June and September you are almost certain to see damselflies and/or dragonflies, even if you are not particularly looking for them. Dragonflies and Damselflies are wild creatures so nothing is guaranteed but can potentially turn up anywhere, so keep your eyes open.


Here are a few steps you can take to increase your chance of seeing these beautiful creatures.

Damselfly and Dragonfly Spotting Tips
  •  Choose a warm, still, sunny day when the air temperature is above 16 degrees C. 
  • Most damselflies and dragonflies are not early risers, so look out for them between approximately 10:30 and 17:00 when they are most active.
  •  Different species emerge at different times of year, which means the season extends from May to October with a peak around July. 
  • Some dragonflies ‘patrol’ up and down their territory. It’s worth standing for a few moments and watching a section of rhyne to see if anything flies past, or even lands.
  •  We tend to associate these insects with water and, of course, they need a watery environment to breed. Some species will happily move to areas away from water to look for insect prey amongst trees and bushes. Some species will even migrate many miles. Keep an eye out as you pass the South Pools hide and along the Seasonal Track. 
  • Females of many species only visit the pools and rhynes to find a mate and to deposit their eggs. The remainder of the time they tend to keep a low profile and are difficult to spot. As they tend to be less brightly coloured they merge very well into the background.
  •  Damselflies, though much smaller than dragonflies, are easier to spot as they thrive in vegetation along the reserve’s paths. There is a good chance of seeing three different species of damselfly in close proximity. Common Blue, Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies can share the same patch of vegetation. 

We hope you have fun looking for these amazing creatures.

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