Friday 1st June 2012 - River Severn at Blackstone

It seems an age since I last posted a blog entry (although it has only been less than a week).  Last week wasn't the week I was expecting it to be.  My car was in the garage but I was all prepared to do some local walks when I pulled a muscle in my lower back.  It was nothing major, and it's ok now, but it was uncomfortable at the time and needless to say I rested and did very little...until today that is.

This morning I had received a text of fellow local patch birder and blogger Craig Reed ( who informed me that the Club-tailed Dragonflies were emerging en-mass at his local patch along the River Severn on a stretch between Bewdley and Stourport.  I had tried to connect with this local Odonata speciality the past couple of years with no joy and Craig had very kindly offered to keep me informed when he started to see them emerge. 

Club-tails can be notoriously difficult dragonflies to catch up with if you do not get your timings just right.  They spend the larval stage of their life in clean moderate to slow-flowing rivers such as the Severn and on emergence they crawl up onto the stems of bank side vegetation whilst their thoracic muscles warm up and they are ready to take flight.  In the case of Club-tails it is only 2-3 hours after emergence that they are ready to make their maiden flights.  But this species doesn't stay around the river it goes high and around the tree tops at nearby woodlands such as the Wyre Forest where they can be very difficult to locate.  Added to this they have a very short flight period and you tend to get the picture in the difficulties involved in connecting with them.

As it was I couldn't collect my car from the garage until 4pm and was rather worried that I may have missed the boat again.  Still I thought I would give it a go and I was glad I did...if nothing else it is a very pleasant walk along the river from Blackstone towards Lickhill.  I was treated to nice views of a Kingfisher and Banded Demoiselle damselflies were seemingly everywhere. Although no sign of any Club-tails on the vegetation near the numerous fishing jetties

By far the most productive area was the meadow between the plantation field and the first caravan site.  Here there were an abundance of newly emerged White-legged Damselflies , with many of the females in the milky cream coloured phase known as lactea.  Day flying moths were also of great interest here with 4 Mother Shipton and 3 Burnett Companion recorded.

I was considering turning back as none of the areas viewable from the jetties held any club-tails when I thought that I may as well finish checking them on this stretch before the caravan site when, on the very last one, bingo!  a stunning Club-tailed Dragonfly.  I was over joyed as this was the first time that I had seen this species and not for the lack of trying.  This individual was very photogenic and i spent a while taking photos and observing it before deciding to head back home for my tea.

Club-tailed Dragonfly (Gomphus vulgatissimus)

Click on image to enlarge

White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes)

Click on image to enlarge

Mother Shipton (Callistege mi)

Click on image to enlarge


  1. Well done, you got the Club-tail and also a great pic. The life cycle is very interesting and not designed to make things easy for us !

  2. The Club-tailed Dragonfly is astounding, I don't get them in my area, I think, hum, I shall look it up. Beautiful photos you've taken.

  3. A dragonfly worth going to see, Jason. Doesn't look like we've got that one on the island.

    Irreverently, I'd have to nick-name it the AA van!

  4. Nice Club-Tailed shot, never seen one myself and do'nt we all know somebody that resembles the wing-pattern of the MotherShip?

    BTW one of the UW 'regulars' miss-ID'd a juv Water Rail for a SpotCrake (i'm not saying i would'nt either). I have made a timely and appropriate comment with regard to 'visiting' birders and Marsh Tits.......

    ATB Laurie -

  5. Mark - Cheers mate. At least we both connected with the species in the end and what a stunner it is too!

    Bob - Thanks. I do believe they get Club-tail dragonflies emerge along the River Wye in your part of the world (but not sure the exact locations)

    Rob - It was def worth going to see. There distribution in the uk is fairly limited to the Rivers Severn, Avon, Wye and Thames plus associated tributries

    Laurie - Cheers thjey a cracking looking things. As for the crake, most birders (even the most experienced) will put there hand up to making a mis-call at some time or other...I know I have in the past.

    The problem with the UW crake was that it was actually put out to the news services without clear and fully confirmed id. I know they have had bad press recently regards supression (which in their defence is not something I have come across with Upton) I can understand that they didn't want to be seen witholding news but unfortunately the bird hadn't showed well enough to be correctly id'd ...opening a big can of worms

  6. Jase - if they had opened a big can of worms they might have lured the bird out for confirmatory views!!!

    On the plus side, there has been nothing to suppress this May!

    Laurie -

  7. Great photos, glad your persistence paid off. I also saw my first Club-tail this year, after dipping on previous occasions.

  8. A great read, thanks Jason. Hope your back is better! Fantastic shot of that Club-tail, well done for persisting!

  9. Hi Jason, 3 species in your images that I have yet to see! Well done with the search and splendid images!
    Glad your back is much better...take it easy!

  10. Marianne - Cheers, it was definitely worth the persistence!

    Omi - It's much better thanks. Yes It really was a stunning dragonfly!

    Pam - Thanks. You ought to have a walk along from Blackstone towards Lickhill. It really is a lovely area