A great feature of the autumn is the now regular appearance of dragonflies such as the Autumn Hawkers down on our East Coast Nature Reserve.
They were only first recorded in Ireland in 2000, from the south east, near Carne, county Wexford, and have since spread north and west along the coastline, inhabiting suitable wetland habitats and woods. They are one of the latest dragonflies to appear, with records of insects right up to the end of October. They are of course spectacular looking, with bright blue abdominal markings and the distinctive little yellow 'golf tee' on the thorax.
|Autumn Hawker (c. OOS)|
Over the last few days, this gregarious predator has become the hunted and have had to share the marshes with a far larger hunter: a Hobby. This scarce falcon is a passage migrant that has taken to patrolling the open fields, superbly adapted to agile and precise hunting: they can take dragonflies on the wing and glide along as it brings its prey from claw to beak, with no need to stop and perch. The recent balmy weather has really brought the Autumn Hawkers out in numbers, attracting the attentions of the passing Hobby, who is now feeding for extended periods on this source, before it continues its journey south to Africa for the winter. What a spectacular sight, hopefully this drama will continue for a few days yet.
|Hobby (c. Tom Shevlin)|