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Thursday, 10 November 2011

Vagrant Emperor at Baglan Bay

Vagrant Emperor (c) M. Hipkin
I came across a dragonfly flying in the dunes next to the old BP refinery works at Baglan Bay (SS72659149) today at 12:04. With the recent winds I thought there will always be a possibility of something unusual so I tried to get a closer look. My early feeling is that it might be a female Vagrant Emperor and would appreciate your thoughts. I spent most of my time trying to capture it on camera but it did come quite close and I made the following observations.
 1) Size seemed close to Migrant Hawker and the flight was quite weak compared to our Emperor dragonfly.
 2) The light was quite harsh but it did appear to have a general brownish colour to it. Not much contrast noticeable and no patterning seen with the naked eye.
 3) The wings also looked quite dark on occasions.
The above is part of the email I sent to Adrian Parr, Migrant Dragonfly Officer for British Dragonfly Society who contacted this blog earlier this year regarding Paul Roberts' find of a Vagrant Emperor at Llanilid 28th April 2011. I've included some of Adrian's response which has made my year!
Vagrant Emperor (c) M. Hipkin
Adrian Parr replied "Yes, this is definitely a Vagrant Emperor. The plain-coloured thorax makes it an Anax species, and the brown eyes & pale spots at the end of the abdomen mean it's Anax ephippiger - the Vagrant Emperor.

 It's interesting that you noted no blue patch on the abdomen, the photo shows this to more likely be a male (no obvious ovipositor, complicated pattern of anal appendages more suggestive of the three seen in males rather than the two in females, plus a hint of secondary genitalia also present). Presumably it's an immature. 

This makes some 7-8 individuals seen in the last six weeks, following on from the unprecedented early 2011 influx. I wonder if there are yet more to come!!"

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