A photo snapped during a boat trip at Arundel Wetland Centre in 2011 has dragonfly expert David Chelmick excited that the wetland reserve may a be breeding ground for the rare club tailed dragonfly.
Wildlife guide and boat driver Clive Griffin took the photo last June while taking visitors through the Wetlands Discovery area of the reserve. “It's not a great photograph, just a dragonfly sitting on the edge of my boat” said Clive, but he suspected, and Paul Stevens grounds manager of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust reserve confirmed, this was a club tailed dragonfly - not seen at the wetlands centre before.
Dragonfly expert David Chelmick of the British Dragonfly Society said “Clive showed me a photo of a fully adult male taken in late June 2011. This insect must have been on ‘territory’ and may well indicate that the species is breeding in the channels created by WWT, some of which look perfect for the beast”. David is doing a five year survey of the Arun River to further understand what features of the river suit this dragonfly, which does not live on any other Sussex or southern flowing English river.
The boat drivers at Arundel Wetland Centre are assisting with the survey by keeping an eye out for the club tailed dragonfly during breeding season this June. They are scouring the reedbed by eye during their regular trips, looking for dragonfly exuviae – the dry, brown exoskeleton left after the dragonfly moults from its nymph stage. Only 1.5 inches long, this husk can identify a species of the dragonfly and even its sex.
The Club tail dragonfly (Gomphus vulgatissimus) is known to breed on the Arun river north of Pulborough and on the Rother around Fittleworth. It is found only on the Thames, Wey and Severn river systems in addition to the Arun. The dragonfly likes large, fast flowing tidal rivers. It breeds in the quieter, stiller parts of these rivers in the silty bottom. In June & July breeding male club tailed dragonflies hold ‘territory’ by driving other males from the area and mating with any nearby females.
Published 4th June 2012
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