It’s time to count on dragonflies

Everyone can help record dragonflies in their garden or local area. Picture: Dinah Goom/ Citizenside

Everyone can help record dragonflies in their garden or local area. Picture: Dinah Goom/ Citizenside. - Credit:

Pam Taylor tells how you can help in a national dragonfly survey

We're officially into springtime now, although it hasn't felt like that in recent weeks. I have to hope however that the new dragonfly season will begin around mid-April, so now is the time for planning.

The British Dragonfly Society is currently preparing for its State of Britain's Dragonflies 2020 report and with publication planned for Dragonfly Week in July that year, we only have two recording seasons left. This is where each and every one of you can help.

All dragonfly records, even casual sightings, are useful for distribution mapping. More valuable still are those lists of all the species you have seen on any particular visit to a wetland site in reasonable weather conditions. These 'Complete Lists', if recorded within a single monad (one km grid square), can help show where a species is increasing, decreasing or stable over time.

The first trend analyses for dragonflies were shown in the national atlas published in 2014. At that time several species gave rise for concern, triggering species specific recording projects and conservation actions. The new state of dragonflies assessment will bring our information up-to-date and inform conservation.

Adopting a site, like your local pond or nature reserve, and making repeat visits throughout the season, takes your dragonfly recording yet another step up the ladder.You will be able to find out the best areas for breeding and foraging dragonflies, as well as assess the effects of any management work carried out.

If all of this sounds rather complicated there are full explanations of everything on the BDS website. The most important thing to remember though, is that dragonfly recording should be fun. As the days lengthen, keep a look out for those first few large red damselflies, four-spotted chasers and hairy dragonflies. Their wonderful colours and agile flight will soon be foretelling the arrival of summer. One swallow may not make a summer, but for me the very first damselfly emerging from its larval case to take its maiden flight certainly does!