Dragonfly species in Monmouthshire: Black-tailed Skimmer

Distribution map of Black-tailed Skimmer in Monmouthshire, March 2024
Distribution map of Black-tailed Skimmer in Monmouthshire, March 2024, produced using the DMAP for Windows software written by Alan Morton, www.dmap.co.uk

Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) is a fairly common and widespread dragonfly species in the county; in lowland areas, a skimmer dragonfly will be this species rather than Keeled Skimmer (O. coerulescens), but both species are found in the uplands of the northwest.

The oldest record in our data set is from St Mellons on 18 July 1984 (observer P. Jones).

Current distribution in the county: what we know

There are many post-2019 records across the western and central Gwent Levels, around Newport and at a few sites in the western valleys, at Llandegfedd reservoir and along the Usk valley, with a cluster of records in the northwest uplands around Blaenavon. In the east of the county it appears to be scarce: there are no recent records from the eastern part of the Levels, and away from here it has only been recorded at Wentwood reservoir, and Overmonnow Ponds near Monmouth.

Current distribution in the county: what we don’t know

As with many species, there are large areas in the north, centre and east of the county with no records at all, or with only older records. This may be because many sites in these areas have not been visited recently to record dragonflies, rather than because the species is not present: there are many apparently suitable sites there.

Further recording in the western and eastern parts of the Levels will determine if it is still present in those areas; given that this is an abundant species around Uskmouth, it would be surprising if it is not found further east and more widely in the west, though there are no recent records from Magor Marsh, which is a well-watched site, so its apparent scarcity in the east may be real.

In the western valleys and northwest uplands, there are several sites with pre-2020 records, at which this species may still be present.

Distribution elsewhere

Black-tailed Skimmer is found widely throughout the four southernmost counties of Wales, particularly nearer the coast; it is still quite widespread in Powys and along much of the west coast, and again in Anglesey and the northeast, but is very scarce elsewhere in the north of the country. It is widespread throughout England as far north as southern Cumbria and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, but is absent from much of the Pennines; in Scotland it has only been recorded in southeastern coastal areas. Elsewhere in Europe, it is found from Ireland and Portugal east to Russia, and from the Mediterranean north to southern Scandinavia and southern Finland. There are also populations in north Africa and Turkey and its range extends east through Asia to Kashmir and Mongolia.