A Vagrant Emperor in Aberbeeg in 2020, the third county record
by Simon Bazeley
The Vagrant Emperor (Anax ephippiger) is a migratory dragonfly species, visiting Britain from Africa, and has been recorded throughout the year. I was lucky enough to see one when I went for a walk around Aberbeeg hospital on 18 September 2020, to take photos of Meadow Brown butterflies which were showing well. I’d taken a few shots of them, when I noticed a Green-veined White butterfly, so I got down amongst the knapweed. I then suddenly heard a rattle of wings, and I knew this was a dragonfly. I stood up and saw it flying around and around, but finally it settled for just long enough for me to get a single photo; then, as quickly as it came, it had gone. As the photo shows, the abdomen was yellow-brown, with only a hint of blue at the front, which indicates a female (on males, the blue is much more prominent). The only previous time I had seen this species was at Parc Slip Nature Reserve near Bridgend, and it had the same motions as this one.
[Our third Vagrant Emperor came soon after our second, which was seen on the Levels the previous year. The numbers of Vagrant Emperors involved in influxes into Britain are increasing, but it is still a rare insect to see in Wales. More Monmouthshire records will surely follow. Steve Preddy]