The Black-tailed skimmers are out and about again at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, and I was delighted to spot both males and females during last Saturday’s exercise walk.
My guide book*, and most websites I’ve checked, say these dragonflies are ‘typically found resting on bare surfaces near water’, and, as its name implies, Cosmeston has two large lakes, as well as a dragonfly pond. But, perhaps surprisingly, I often find these dragonflies several hundred metres away from water, basking on the bare dirt of the tracks through the wildflower meadows.
The females and immature males are yellow and black, with what’s described as a ‘ladder’ pattern on their abdomens. One female I found this week had a twisted abdomen – perhaps she was damaged when transitioning from a larva to an adult. Luckily, she was still able to fly freely.
Mature male Black-tailed skimmers have a blue abdomen, which darkens to black at the end, hence the name of the species.
* I have the new edition of Europe’s Dragonflies by Dave Smallshire and Andy Swash – highly recommended, and I’m not just saying that because I got a complimentary copy in return for having one of my photos included in the book.