Now is the perfect time to spot one of the special dragonflies of the Lake District breeding at the Eycott Hill Nature Reserve near Keswick.
The broad-bodied chaser dragonfly has been steadily moving north through the country for many years and it is becoming more frequent in the northern half of Cumbria. It was first spotted a the nature reserve between Keswick and Penrith, near to the village of Berrier, in 2018 but this is the first year it has emerged at Eycott Hill, which belongs to Cumbria Wildlife Trust.
The broad-bodied chaser is a medium-sized dragonfly that is on the wing from May to July, and occasionally into August. It is found amongst ponds, small lakes and wetland, and Eycott Hill has a number of these habitats, with ponds located towards the east and west side of the nature reserve.
The flattened body of the broad-bodied chaser is distinctive and makes this dragonfly appear ‘fat’. The male has a powder-blue body with yellow spots along the sides and a dark thorax, whereas the female is greeny-brown. These dragonflies can be spotted taking swift flights out across the water looking for insects, regularly returning to the same perch in between flights.
Oscar Adams, Eycott Hill Reserve and training officer said: “It’s wonderful to see the broad-bodied chaser breeding at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve. The series of pools on the west side of the nature reserve near Naddles Beck are a perfect habitat for this dragonfly. The male’s distinctive bright blue colour is truly spectacular!”
At the trust’s Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve at Witherslack in south Cumbria, the downy emerald dragonfly has been seen for the first time. The downy emerald is one of the special dragonflies of the Lake District, as it only occurs at scattered sites elsewhere in the British Isles. Long periods of sunny weather tend to encourage dragonflies to travel around more than usual. The downy emerald will be added to the long list of species recorded at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve.
Work at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund which awarded £1.6 million towards the purchase price and an ongoing five year programme of conservation and activities to benefit wildlife and people.
Located between Keswick and Penrith, near to the village of Berrier, Eycott Hill is 216 hectares of exceptionally rich wildlife habitat and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the plants in the swamps and mires and its geology. Car parking and entry to the nature reserve is free of charge.
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