Posted by: Ross Gardner | June 17, 2018

Love is…… a cowpat

What better place to go a courting than on a nice, sun-dried cowpat?  If you happen to be a dragonfly this might be exactly what you will find yourself thinking.  This pair of Black-tailed Skimmer were positively singling out this particular fecal disc as the ideal to spot to soak up some extra warmth on a cloudy day the other weekend.  Like many species of the Libellulidae (that family of dragonflies also containing the Chasers and Darters) they are creatures of habit, returning frequently to favoured perches, much to the benefit of those attempting to photograph them.

Black-tailed Skimmer pair on cowpat (scaled)

Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum): male (left) and female.

The Dragonfly season is well and truly upon us.  Territorial rights disputed and settled; bonds made and cemented; the wheel turning through its terrestrial realm before submergence again amid the monster-populated, weedy shadows.  The last couple of weeks have seen something of a concerted emergence of Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum), numerous as they seem to be at least around my local, Essex wetlands.  No doubt this is also the case across their UK range, covering the larger part of the southern half of England, as well as scattered areas of Wales.

Black-tailed Skimmer (female) 2 (scaled)

Black-tailed Skimmer – female.

Further afield they are a widespread insect, being found across much of Europe and well into Asia.  Such an expansive range is perhaps reflected in the apparently far-reaching influence of the Orthetrum genus as a whole, also having representatives in Africa, Australia and Japan.  Fittingly perhaps, the very first dragonfly encountered on our recent trip to Borneo was one Orthetrum pruinosum, the Crimson-tailed Marsh Hawk.

Orthetrum pruinosum.JPG 2 (scaled)

Orthetrum pruinosum photographed on the hills around Mount Kinabalu, Borneo.


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