All featured images were taken by and remain the property of Chris Brooks

The narrative was kindly written
 and supplied by
Mr Ken Crick

Black Tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)

A Species Narrative by Ken Crick

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Welcome to my new style narrative, the content of which has been kindly written and supplied by Ken Crick. The narrative is intended to give an insight into the life cycle and characteristics of the featured species.  

Size: - Approximate Length 50m - Wing Span 78mm
 
Male: - The male (see above) has all clear wings with an all brown thorax and no antehumeral stripes. Abdominal segment 1 of a sexually mature male is charcoal coloured. Segments 2 to most of 7 are blue and segments 8 to10 are dark charcoal. The young but sexually mature male, has a slim yellow crescent, on each flank, of each blue segment; these gradually disappear with age.
 
Female: - The female (see below) is yellow with an irregular black line running down each side of the abdomen. Newly emerged males are similarly marked. Females darken with age. Those reaching a full life span become dark grey with a blue tint.

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Status: - Relatively common south of a line drawn from the Bristol Channel to the Wash. Its range is expanding north up to Lancashire and County Durham and west across Eire.

Habitat: - Rapidly colonizes new man made still water bodies of almost any size and tends to remain faithful to them as long as there is some sunbathed exposed bare ground at the margins. Also some exposed slow flowing rivers, particularly where cattle enter the water keeping the ground clear of vegetation.

Flight period: - Mid May to mid August.

General: - Males adopt territories which they protect by making frequent low flights out over the water from a suitably high vantage point. They return to patrol the well vegetative margin of their territory before briefly resting at the same vantage point. Copulation can be on the wing and is very rapid or it can be performed at rest when it can take up to a quarter of an hour.

The female egg-lays up and down the water margin, dipping the tip of her abdomen repeatedly into the water, to wash off the eggs. The male is often in attendance on guard duty, at least until another female comes into view.  

The narrative was kindly written and supplied by Ken Crick

All featured images were taken by and remain the property of Chris Brooks

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