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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.

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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.

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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.

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Mature male Black-tailed skimmers have a blue abdomen, which darkens to black at the end, hence the name of the species.

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* 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.