Dragonfly species in Monmouthshire: Brown Hawker

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

Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) is a very localised dragonfly in the county, occurring only at a small number of sites in the northwest uplands.

Current distribution in the county: what we know

Recent records come from a small number of sites in the northwest, principally Waun-y-Pound, where it was first found on 16 August 1995 by Mike Powell, and which prior to 2020 was its only regular site. From 2021 onwards, it has been recorded in several new areas. It was recorded in 2021 and 2022 at ponds on the moorlands to the southwest of Ebbw Vale, and in 2022 a little to the south of here at St James’s reservoir in Tredegar. In 2021 it was found at Parc Nant-y-Waun, near Brynmawr. Also since 2021, it has been recorded at Garn Lakes, to the east near Blaenavon. The species was found near Festival Lake, Victoria in 2023 (where it had previously been recorded in 2013) so this may be another regular site.

The only other records were individuals seen at Parc Bryn Bach lake in 1995 by Bill Keen, one seen flying along a track at Cwmcarn Forest on 31 July 2007 by David Beveridge, and one seen at Keeper’s Pond, Blaenavon in 2012; both of these were presumably individuals wandering from populations elsewhere.

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

Being a large and distinctive species, the status of Brown Hawker is very well known. The recent colonisation of new sites could suggest it will expand its range further throughout the county in the coming years.

Any brown hawker at a new site should be checked carefully to rule out the possibility of Norfolk Hawker (A. isosceles) which has been recorded in many new areas in England in the past decade, including Dorset and Gloucestershire.

Distribution elsewhere

Brown Hawker is an uncommon species across the rest of Wales; its main distribution is in eastern parts of mid-Wales, and along the English border further north, and there are few records in the south, west and most of the north. In England it is very scarce in the southwest peninsula, but otherwise is widespread and common as far north as south Cumbria and Newcastle-upon-Tyne; in Scotland it is very rare. Elsewhere in Europe, it is widespread in Ireland, but has a mainly northern and eastern distribution, from the eastern half of France, through Germany and Poland to Russia, and north into most of Scandinavia and Finland, and its range continues through Asia to Siberia.