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2017 BDS Clubtail Count in Oxfordshire

In recent years there has been increasing concern about the status of the Clubtail Dragonfly, with reports suggesting the species may be declining. It is unknown whether this is due to a decrease in records or a genuine decline. Because of its elusive nature the current records for the Clubtail Dragonfly are patchy and many are dated.

In order to establish the status of the species, we need to change that.   The Clubtail Count is easy to take part in and could lead to your first glimpse of this beautiful insect! Once allocated a survey area, you will be asked to carry out a minimum of 3 visits between May and July, simply walking along the river bank looking for the Clubtail Dragonfly or its skin cast (exuvia). You don't even need prior experience of dragonfly identification: in your volunteer's welcome pack, you will receive an ID guide, which tells you all you need to know to identify this dragonfly.  

In Oxfordshire the plan is to cover the full length of the River Thames through the county and counts will be made on a 1km x 1km square basis – so as many counters as possible are needed!  

To maintain interest during survey, I would be delighted to receive details of any Clubtails you find anywhere along the River Thames. If you find a spent exuvia, an emerging adult or a free-flying adult please let me know as soon as possible by e-mail and I will post  in the table below as soon as I can. I will need to know where and when you saw it and whether it was an exuvia, emerging adult or a free flying one.

If you would like to take part, please get in touch as soon as possible with the survey organisers at the BDS. For their contact and other details see I’d also be interested to hear from you.

Finding exuviae and emerging adults
This is a specialised activity and you may find this short guide to finding exuviae and emerging adults helpful. 
Stop Press: DNA sequencing of exuviae!
The BDS have just announced that Ben Price, of the Natural History Museum, is interested in having some Clubtail exuviae to extract DNA from to assess population structure and size.  Any exuviae should be collected and kept in tubes (which can be obtained from here) or ziplock bags, with the collecting date and locality (preferably with GPS or OS grid ref) and collectors name.   At the end of the Clubtail season these should be sent to Genevieve Dalley Conservation Officer, British Dragonfly Society,  c/o Natural England, Parkside Court, Hall Park Way, Telford, TF3 4LR.
Date Details Site Observer
1 June 1 exuvia.  Sitting on top of a post just above the waterline about 100m away from the one seen on 22 May.  On the Oxford side of the Thames at Sonning  (SU75757592)  Nick Nick Percival

(c) Mark Wagstaff
31 May 1 freshly emerged adult Goring railway bridge Mark Wagstaff

(c) Nicola Devine

(c) Adam Hartley
26 May 1 adult coming to pond - also seen on 25 May Trap Grounds at "Tim's Pond" SP503081  Nicola Devine & Adam Hartley
Deformed Clubtail attempting to emerge (c) Peter Law
25 May  2 emergences between 11:30 and 2:30. The first dragonfly (pictured) could not emerge properly, looking small and deformed, and eventually expired. The second, much larger and robust individual flew off successfully.   Goring railway bridge  Peter Law 

Clubtail exuvia (c) Peter Law
24 May 4 exuviae. 2 of these were attached to the wall of the bridge abutment and 2 more in long grass at the top Goring Railway Bridge Peter Law
24 May 5 exuviae at Goring railway bridge (SU6079); 1 adult on riverbank at Cholsey (? in SU6085) 2pm; 1 adult flying at Beale Park 3pm P W Frew per iRecord
22 May 1 exuvia. Found resting on top of post just a foot above water level Sonning, west bank of Thames  SU75597582 Nick Percival, per iRecord
14 May 1 adult, emerging Goring Railway Bridge Dominic Mackenzie per iRecord

Clubtail, Tadpole Bridge 14 May (c) Stephen Burch
14 May 1 adult at SP333003 (SP3300) but no further sign of adults or exuviae from here to Radcot On Thames path just W of Tadpole Bridge Stephen Burch

Clubtail exuvia Goring 13 May (c) Stephen Darlington
Clubtail exuvia Goring
Clubtail exuvia Goring 13 May (c) Stephen Burch
13 May 3 exuviae in SU5980, 2 in SU5979 and 6 in SU6079 Goring to the railway bridge Stephen Burch
10 May 1 exuvia Shiplake Mike Turton

Clubtail, Abingdon 29 April (c) Martin Green
29 April An ill-formed teneral male. First 2017 Oxon record for the count! Abingdon Lock (SU506971) Bob Eeles
22 April 1 Clubtail exuvia. Remarkably early record! River Thames at Reading (probably Berks, but v close to our area!) per BDS

All pictures copyright Stephen Burch, unless stated otherwise

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