The Hull Natural History Society

Local wildlife > Dragonflies 2019

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City of Dragons: A 2019 survey of Dragonflies and Damselflies in Hull

Africa Gómez and Richard Shillaker

Damselflies and dragonflies are regarded as barometers of climate change and many species have expanded north in the UK and colonised Yorkshire in the last few decades. Although Hull has a diversity of freshwater habitats, the area has been under recorded for Odonata, despite the need for such a survey being recognised in the Hull Biodiversity Action Plan of 2002.

In 2019, we surveyed damselflies and dragonflies in the city of Hull and surrounding area in the East Riding. We were particularly keen to obtain evidence of breeding, primarily based on observations of adult behaviour. A number of local naturalists including Hull Nats members contributed to the survey, and we used social media to promote the project and encourage members of the public to submit records. We obtained records for 19 species, with breeding evidence for 14. This was based on 618 records from 71 km² grid squares, provided by 24 observers.

The most commonly recorded species were Migrant Hawker, Common Darter, Blue-tailed Damselfly and Common Blue Damselfly. Amongst the best sites for Odonata were lakes in public parks, especially East Park and Pickering Park (10 and 8 species recorded, respectively). Both sites compared well with sites already recognised as good spots for dragonfly watching in the Hull area, e.g Paull Holme Strays. Notable results included the sighting of a Willow Emerald Damselfly at East Park, the first VC61 record. At Pickering Park, we observed a large number of breeding Migrant Hawkers. A significant emergence of Broad-bodied Chasers was recorded in Pearson Park. Banded Demoiselles were present on the River Hull within the city limits but no evidence of breeding was observed. Perhaps surprisingly, the Large Red Damselfly, a common species in much of the UK, was not recorded during our survey.

We also put some effort into finding and collating historical records. Prior to 2000 we could find records for only 10 species. Hopefully, our findings can be used to increase awareness and appreciation of nature within the city of Hull, and provide reference data for future monitoring of local biodiversity and contribute to the 2020 Atlas of the British Dragonfly Society. We are intending to repeat the survey this year.

The City of Dragons survey may be downloaded as a pdf file from this link to the website of the Yorkshire Dragonfly Group.