Expert believes notable dragonfly is breeding on Arundel wetlands

This green-eyed, mature, male is looking to mate says club-tailed dragonfly expert SUS-140624-093429001
This green-eyed, mature, male is looking to mate says club-tailed dragonfly expert SUS-140624-093429001

A dragonfly that only breeds on five rivers in the UK has been discovered at Arundel Wetland Centre. A club-tailed dragonfly was photographed by Warden Paul Stevens on Sunday June 22, leading experts to believe it is breeding on the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust reserve.

The club-tailed dragonfly was last seen on the reserve in 2011.

David Chelmick, President of the British Dragonfly Society and Fellow of Royal Entomological Society said “I believe the club-tailed dragonfly is breeding at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre. Their life cycle is 2-3 years, from egg to adult, which is likely why the sightings are three years apart.” From the WWT photos Mr. Chelmick verified the dragonfly is a mature male and likely on ‘territory’ and looking to mate. Club-tails emerge yellow in colour and turn green as they mature. This medium sized dragonfly is easily identified by its club shaped tail and distinctly separate eyes. The eyes of most dragonflies meet on top of their head.

This species is classified as ‘nationally notable’ as it only breeds on five UK rivers, Arun, Thames, Wey, Dee and Severn. On the Arun River system this dragonfly only breeds at two spots - near Palingham and around Fittleworth. Mr Chelmick thinks the overgrowth along the Arun River north around Palingham could be pushing the dragonflies south in search of breeding spots.

Dragonfly expert David Chelmick visited Arundel Wetland Centre in 2012 and declared that the channels and waterways in the wetland reserve are an ideal breeding habitat for club-tailed dragonflies.

WWT Arundel Centre Manager Dave Fairlamb says: “We offer you the opportunity to come face to face with this fantastic dragonfly on our wildlife boat safaris or by gazing out over Arun Riverlife, an area that duplicates the floodplain of the Arun River.”

On June 28-29 visitors can come in to hunt for dragonfly and other mini-beasts during Incredible Insect Weekend at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre, part of UK’s National Insect Week. June has been a great month for insects at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre. A great silver water beetle found on the reserve on June 4 - only the third recorded sighting of this large beetle in West Sussex.

Arundel Wetland Centre is located on Mill Road, Arundel West Sussex BN18 9PB. The Wetland Discovery Boat Safari runs every day between 11am - 4.30pm. The reserve has eight comfortable hides, easy buggy and wheelchair friendly pathways, fully stocked cafe and gift shops and disabled and parent and baby facilities. Admission starts at £11.95 per adult, or £32.10 for a family, all which contributes to WWT’s vital conservation work in the UK and around the world.

Report and picture contributed by WWT Arundel Wetland Centre.