058. Blue Hawker – Southern Hawker – Aeshna cyanea – UK – European Dragonfly
The Blue Hawker – Southern Hawker ( Aeshna cyanea ) was one of the earliest dragonflies I remember photographing many years ago as shown in the first image above. I followed its flight towards the end of the day when it went to roost in a small Oak on the edge of the then recently created Middlewood Way, a disused railway line converted into a bridleway near my home in Cheshire UK. I even pulled down the branch as it remained there and was pleased to photograph it on transparency with flash. Central Europe is the species stronghold, it is uncommon in Scotland and doesn’t breed at all in Ireland.
It is interesting to contrast the lack of colour in a teneral male in the more recent digital fourth photograph but I didn’t notice the ladybird until the photo was in the computer ! The last two photographs show a female laying eggs into soil well up a bank above the water and another male arriving trying to pull he away, presumably to mate again.
Blue Hawkers often shows interest in the observer, coming to hover in front of people. They are frequently seen in suburban garden ponds and seem to like breeding in quite shaded and stagnant places.
KEY I/D FEATURES :
Mature males are unmistakeable with their bold colouring. This larger Aeshnid has apple green spots on the topside of Segments 1-7 and blue spots on the sides of Segments 8-10, with similar blue bands around the topside of Segments 9-10. These last two segments having complete blue bands is a key characteristic separating the species from the male Moorland Hawker – Aeschna juncea. The antehumeral stripes are thick, oval and apple green and the pterostigma is quite short.
Females and immature males are similar with yellow/green on all segments of the body.