Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)
Species
Male Black-tailed Skimmer. Taken at Crookham Common, Berks, on July 16th 2016. Approx 3.5x lifesize.
Male. Taken at Crookham Common, Berks, on July 16th 2016.
(1/320th sec at f13. Approx 2x lifesize. Click image for larger version)
Male Black-tailed Skimmer. Taken at Whelford Pools, Gloucs, on June 14th 2017. Approx 3.5x lifesize.
Male. Taken at Whelford Pools, Gloucs, on June 14th 2017.
(1/1250th sec at f13. Approx 2x lifesize. Click image for larger version)
Teneral male Black-tailed Skimmer. Taken at Otmoor, Oxon on June 17th 2012. Approx 3.5x lifesize.
Teneral male. Taken at Otmoor, Oxon on June 17th 2012.
(1/125th sec at f18. Approx 2x lifesize. Click image for larger version)
Female Black-tailed Skimmer. Taken near Montmorillon, France on June 29th 2010. Approx 3.5x lifesize.
Female. Taken near Montmorillon, France on June 29th 2010.
(1/160th sec at f9. Approx 2x life size. Click image for larger version.)
Female Black-tailed Skimmer. Taken at Farmoor, Oxon on July 13th 2008. Approx 2.25x lifesize.
Mating wheel. Taken at Farmoor, Oxon on July 13th 2008.
(1/250th sec at f10. Approx 1.5x lifesize. Click image for larger version)

© David Hastings

Description

Wing span: 70-82 mm; Body length: 44-50 mm
 
A medium-sized dragonfly, with the abdomen tapering evenly from S2-3. Females and immatures are pale, yellowish brown with two bold lines running along the length of the abdomen. The wings are clear, have a yellow costa and a very dark brown or black pterostigma. The males develop a blue pruinescence on the abdomen darkening to the rear with with S8-10 becoming black. Their eyes are very dark green. Females retain their colour and markings, though they become greyish-brown with age.
 
The main distribution of this species is in England. It is also found in Ireland and south Wales.
 
Its prefered habitat is larger standing or slow-flowing waters, generally open and often with un-vegetated margins. It occurs in brackish waters and can tolerate high fish densities. It is a good colonist of new sites, especially while open margins persist.
 
Eggs are laid in flight. They hatch after five or six weeks and the larvae live partially hidden by bottom debris. They emerge after two or three years. The main flight period is June and July.
 
Males characteristically perch horizontally on exposed surfaces. They fly fast and low, skimming the water surface, while defending their territories. Mating can occur in flight or on land.
 
A locally common species.
 

Sightings

29-Jul-2017:Standlake Common, Oxon(2)
18-Jul-2017:Greenham Common, Berks(5)
02-Jul-2017:Silchester Common, Hants(1)
01-Jul-2017:Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon(2)
17-Jun-2017:Standlake Common, Oxon(10+m,2f)
14-Jun-2017:Whelford Pools, Glos(1m,2f)

06-Aug-2016:Greenham Common, Berks(3)
16-Jul-2016:Crookham Common, Berks(4+)
15-Jul-2016:Bernwood Forest, Bucks(1)
11-Jul-2016:Bernwood Forest, Bucks(1m,2f)
04-Jul-2016:Leighton Moss, Lancashire(2)
03-Jul-2016:Gait Barrows NNR, Lancashire(1)
25-Jun-2016:Whelford Pools, Glos(1m,1f)
02-Jun-2016:Lymington-Keyhaven NR, Hants(1)

15-Aug-2015:Rushy Common, Oxon(1m)
23-Jul-2015:Mesta River fishponds, Bulgaria
18-Jul-2015:Silchester Common, Hants(1)
18-Jul-2015:Crookham Common, Berks(2m,1f)
04-Jul-2015:Otmoor, Oxon(1)
04-Jul-2015:Calvert Jubilee, Oxon(7)
21-Jun-2015:Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon(1)

31-Jul-2014:Leighton Moss, Lancashire(2)
19-Jul-2014:Hinksey Lake, Oxford, Oxon(2)
06-Jul-2014:Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon(1)
02-Jul-2014:North Cave Wetlands, E. Yorkshire(1)
30-Jun-2014:Tophill Low, E. Yorks(2)
25-Jun-2014:Rupite Hot Springs, Bulgaria
25-Jun-2014:General Todorov, Bulgaria
16-Jun-2014:Whelford Pools, Glos(1)
10-Jun-2014:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1 ten.)

08-Jul-2013:Whelford Pools, Glos(1m)
26-Jun-2013:Hickling Broad, Norfolk(5)
25-Jun-2013:Catfield Fen, Norfolk(4)
25-Jun-2013:Hickling Broad, Norfolk(1)
01-May-2013:The Camargue, France(1)
25-Apr-2013:Marais du Viguierat, France(1m)