This is, without doubt, a picture of a ruddy darter (Sympetrum sanguineum). We rarely use as a headline any pictures that have not been taken in the park but this one was taken in Chemnitz, Germany by Jörg Hempel and has been downloaded from Wikimedia Creative Commons
On Thursday, Ian, our inveterate invertebrate specialist, photographed a bright red dragonfly near the Dog Pond. He believed it to be a ruddy darter, a new species for the park, but his photograph is not clear enough or detailed enough for us to be sure.
Last year, Simon Handley photographed a common darter (Sympetrum striolatum) in the park. The two species are very similar; a mature male common darter can also be a bright red but has a yellow stripe down its legs. The male ruddy darter has black legs but a distinct narrowing in the middle of its abdomen, like a waist, which makes it look club-tailed.
Both darters choose still water like the Dog Pond, with borders of semi-aquatic vegetation. The ruddy darter can be more elusive than the common darter, and often hides in the reeds around the fringes of the pools.
We are monitoring our Odonata this year because they are such a clear indication of the ecological importance of Lambrok Stream and because of our concern that the leak of silt-heavy, chlorinated mains water into the stream in April will have damaged it as Odonata breeding ground.
We need a clearer picture if we are to add the ruddy darter to our species lists. If you are in the park this weekend, armed with a camera or a camera-phone, and you see a red dragonfly near the Dog Pond, please take its picture and send it to us. Don’t share it to our Fb page or to Messenger because they will scale the picture down and then we won’t have enough pixels to enlarge it for a sufficiently close look to identify the species. Email the whole picture file to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ruddy darter’s conservation status is secure, and UK numbers seem to be increasing in some locations.
Header picture: ruddy darter dragonfly (Sympetrum sanguineum) by Jorg Hempel [CC BY-SA 3.0]
Another dragonfly here: