Spring of 2023 was cold and wet in the Netherlands so dragonfly season started late. With warm and sunny weather finally arriving, species started popping out of the water left and right. A few trips in the area yielded some nice new additions to the photo galleries of some existing species pages. Among these are:
In 2015 I made an unsuccessful first attempt to see the extremely rare Siberian Bluets (Coenagrion hylas) in Austria but then I was too late in the season. On a second attempt in June 2022 I ended up in the middle of their flight season: there were dozens of specimens flying, mostly males who were feverishly looking for females and barely perched. Only a few European populations are known to exist, all located in a small area in the northern Austrian Alps. The European populations are considered to be subspecies Coenagrion hylas freyi. Their extensive black markings on abdomen and thorax and their odd diurnal activity pattern make this glacial relict a unique addition to our dragonfly fauna.
A long-desired trip to Belgium and adjacent northern France was on my agenda for the past two years but it was postponed both times due to Covid restrictions. This year however I made it! Main goal was the Eurasian Baskettail (Epitheca bimaculata), a rare Corduliid that inhabits lakes with lots of submerged vegetation and fish present. About twenty years ago I last visited the species on the same location but the slides I took back then didn’t age well so the species wasn’t present on my website so far. Well, this is finally fixed now! As a bonus I was able to photograph another Corduliid, Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica), during emergence. This species isn’t exactly rare in my area but notoriously hard to photograph as an imago so I was hyped finding this species in the process of emerging.
Last June, The Netherlands were flooded with large numbers of Vagrant Emperors (Anax ephippiger), a dragonfly species primarily found in Africa and the Middle East. This influx was unique for more than one reason: the number of Vagrant Emperors was higher than all previous sightings combined, ever, and it was the first time we saw a real influx before summer. Mating and oviposition was witnessed on many Dutch locations. Now, in August, we see the results: for the first time in history, Vagrant Emperors emerge in The Netherlands.
Right now The Netherlands are witnessing their largest known influx ever of Vagrant Emperor (Anax ephippiger). Vagrant Emperors are commonly found in Africa and southwest Asia but they are highly migratory and capable of travelling very large distances. There are several records from Iceland and even the Caribbean!
For the last week more Vagrant Emperors have shown up in The Netherlands every day and on many locations more than one individual was found. They show reproductive behaviour including ovipositing. The picture below was taken near the city of Weert in the south of The Netherlands. For more pictures of this stunning and interesting species, click here!
After a couple of weeks of hard work I feel my website is ready for public. While some parts (especially dragonflies 101) are still very much a work in progress, the most important parts are ready: pictures of 35 European species of damselfly and 72 species of dragonflies, a 107 species in total! On top of that I’ve thrown in some tropical species to show more of the diversity of this awesome insect order.