A Lesser Emperor at Lamby Lake in 2006, the first county record

by Andy Karran

It came as quite a surprise to me early in 2022 that I had recorded a “county first”, as it was almost 16 years since I saw the dragonfly!

On the 4th August 2006, I was photographing Emperor Dragonflies (Anax imperator) near Lamby Lake. I was having little luck as they wouldn’t sit still and camera technology wasn’t what it is today. A different dragonfly appeared which I quickly identified as a Lesser Emperor (Anas parthenope) as I had only recently been reading about them. I knew they were rare, but didn’t realise they hadn’t been recorded in the area previously. The Lesser Emperor wouldn’t sit still either, however as it was rare I persevered and managed to get a record shot. It turns out only two have been recorded here since, one of these being earlier in 2022.

A Lesser Emperor at Lamby Lake in August 2006 by Andy Karran

[Andy’s photo shows an unmistakable combination of features that is only shown by Lesser Emperor: green eyes, a brown thorax and a dull abdomen with a sky-blue patch on the foremost segments. This is a species which was only recorded in Britain for the first time in 1996, but by 2006 it had occurred widely across England and Wales, and so a Monmouthshire record was to be expected. Lamby Lake lies within the Cardiff local authority area, but it is east of the River Rhymney, which forms the western boundary of the Monmouthshire recording area. As Andy says, the species has only been recorded twice in Monmouthshire since (see Darryl Spittle’s account here), but more records will surely follow as Lesser Emperor consolidates its position as a breeding species in Britain. Steve Preddy]

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