Monmouthshire dragonfly recording update 1, July 2020

Hello, and welcome to to this first update on dragonfly recording in Monmouthshire. There will be a few of these each year, whenever there is something to update you on.

Monmouthshire pages at the British Dragonfly Society website

There is now a section dedicated to dragonflies in our part of the world at the British Dragonfly Society website. Thank you to David Hepper for his help with setting this up.  So far, there’s a map of the county, the Monmouthshire dragonfly list (up to date as at the end of 2019), a section with details of rarities, and news of the planned atlas project. Take a look at the pages and if you have any ideas for further content, please let me know. I’d also love to hear from you if you have photos of dragonflies (they don’t have to have been taken locally) or local habitats, sites or landscapes, which you would be happy for us to use.

Where is Monmouthshire?

Our part of the world is referred to by multiple names – Gwent, Monmouthshire, Southeast Wales etc. and the name “Monmouthshire” has been applied to different areas too – e.g. the current local government area of Monmouthshire covers only the east part of our recording area. To clear up any confusion, the website has a map showing the area we cover.

Monmouthshire dragonflies in 2018 and 2019

The last two years have been an exciting period for dragonflies here, with our second record of Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) in 2018, and Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis) being recorded for the first time in 2019 along with our second record of Vagrant Emperor (Anax ephippiger). Small Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum) continuing its spread and the number of sites where it has been found is now in double figures. It was also a busy period for me, as, having taken on the county dragonfly recorder role, I had a backlog of 2000 or so records to check. Pleasingly, almost all proved straightforward to process, and the task is now complete, and all the records have been incorporated into the national dataset.

Our first Vagrant Emperor

The first Vagrant Emperor for the county occurred six years before last year’s record. Keith Cox, who found it, has kindly written it up here. If you’ve found a first for the county, or any other rarity, and would like to write a short account for the website, please get in touch.

Our next new species?

With recent additions, the county dragonfly list now stands at 34 species. However, there are still some species which are very likely to occur here. Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) is undergoing a population boom in adjacent areas of England and is expanding its range, and this year the second record for Glamorgan has been found at Forest Farm near Cardiff, and the first for Powys, at Llangorse Lake, so our first confirmed Monmouthshire record is surely only a matter of time. 

Atlas project

This year British Dragonfly Society is launching a Monmouthshire dragonfly atlas project. We intend to run this over the next ten years and produce an atlas in 2030. We’d like to encourage recorders to visit every part of the county over the coming period, so we can build up the first really detailed picture of which species are found where. We are at a time with a lot of change happening to dragonfly distributions, with many species being recorded here for the first time, and others expanding or contracting their range, so recording a snapshot of what’s present in the county will be an interesting exercise, to compare with the past and future. The atlas will also help identify sites of importance for dragonfly conservation, and contribute towards the next national conservation status assessment. While recording, please bear in mind the restrictions on movement currently in place due to the Coronavirus, and that the regulations here in Wales are different from those in England.

How to contribute your records

Any and all records of dragonflies in the county are welcome: we have a blank set of atlas maps at the moment! The easiest way to contribute your records is to enter them into iRecord, but if you’d prefer a different method, please get in touch.

Can you spread the word?

Although there are already 50 people on the distribution list for these email updates, I’m sure there will be active recorders who I’m not aware of. If you know of someone who would like to receive these emails, please put them in touch (my contact details are on the County Recorders page or you can send me an email by clicking on my name below).

Steve Preddy, Monmouthshire County Dragonfly Recorder, British Dragonfly Society

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