Dawlish Warren does not regularly hold any of the rarer British species which may be found elsewhere in Devon, but 25 species have been recorded. The ponds on site are mainly brackish, despite this many of the more widespread species are present. In recent years it is thought that the numbers of adult Odonata, especially Dragonflies, have been in decline. These declines may have been caused by several factors, changes in vegetation and management, possible changes in salinity, reduced water levels and predation by fish in the Main Pond, are all potential causes.


Below is a full list of the species known to have been seen in the recording area, although few records are ever made away from the reserves. No specific searches for exuviae have been made on site, so breeding status is assumed from the behaviour of adults and observations of teneral individuals.


Related Links: British Dragonfly Society



Azure Damselfly                        Coenagrion puella


Breeds in all ponds on site, often the commonest species present.


Common Blue Damselfly        Enallagma cyathigerum


Several records in the mid 1990s, but declined and was not recorded for several years. One on the Dune Ridge on 10/08/08 was presumably a migrant, but at least were recorded in 2009 and 2010.


Large Red Damselfly               Pyrrhosoma nymphula


This widespread species is surprisingly scarce with barely annual records. Has not been reported breeding.


Small Red-eyed Damselfly      Erythromma viridulum


First recorded in August 2010 with up to 20 individuals and egglaying observed. Currently only the third Devon site and the most westerly in the UK for this rapidly expanding species.


Blue-tailed Damselfly              Ischnura elegans


A common species on site, breeding in all ponds.


Beautiful Demoiselle                Calopteryx virgo


A vagrant. The first record was a female near the Tractor Compound on 28/8/06. A second female was seen near the First Pond on 09/07/07 with two further records that month. Records continue to increase with the first multiple record in 2010.


Banded Demoiselle                  Calopteryx splendens


A vagrant to the recording area, presumably from up river. There have only been four records, all females.


Hairy Dragonfly                         Brachytron pratense


This, a nationally rare [Nb] species is the rarest dragonfly found regularly on the reserve.  Recorded annually from the Main Pond in varying numbers, is presumed to breed but the population may also depend on individuals from larger populations up the estuary.


Southern Hawker                     Aeshna cyanea


A species that has bred in the past, but has declined, there are still a few records of this species most years.


Common Hawker                      Aeshna juncea


The scarcest of the three hawkers recorded on site, there have only been a handful of confirmed sightings and none recently. One on 20/10/05 was the first for several years.


Migrant Hawker                        Aeshna mixta


A regular sight along woodland rides in late summer, this species breeds on site and can occur in large numbers, presumably migrants, if conditions are suitable. Along with Common Darter, this is often the last species to be recorded.


Emperor Dragonfly                  Anax imperator


This species breeds in all ponds on site, where males can often be seen holding territory. Individuals can also be encountered foraging along the Dune Ridge and elsewhere on site.


Vagrant Emperor                     Anax ephippiger


The first confirmed record of this African species was on 13 May. Probables were seen briefly on 28 April and 16 May 2011 during a record influx of the species.


Golden-ringed Dragonfly       Cordulegaster boltonii


Previously a vagrant to the recording area with only three records prior to the mid 1990s, has since been recorded annually in increasing numbers.


Black-tailed Skimmer              Orthetrum cancellatum


Previously a common breeding species, still occurs in small numbers (although not recorded in 2004/5), but the favoured habitat of open bare ground around the ponds is now much reduced.


Keeled Skimmer                        Orthetrum coerulescens


A vagrant to the recording area with two records. A single male was seen on the Dune Ridge on 24/08/04 and a worn individual was in the same place on 16/08/10.


Scarce Chaser                         Libellula fulva


Another vagrant to the recording area with only one record. One was in bushes behind the hide on 19/07/08.


Broad-bodied Chaser             Libellula depressa


Usually the first species recorded each year, this species breeds at all the ponds on site, although in smaller numbers than previously.


Four-spotted Chaser              Libellula quadrimaculata


This was a regular breeding species after the pond excavation in the 1980s. It is no longer present and presumably became extinct on site some time in the 1990s, with no recent records. One in Greenland Lake on 25/05/08 was presumably a migrant, but two were seen in 2009...


Ruddy Darter                             Sympetrum sanguineum


This species previously bred at the Dune Pond and possibly elsewhere (individuals have been recorded from moth traps set around the Main Pond), its eventual demise as a breeding species coincided with the presence of a Moorhen brood at the main site! Migrants are still recorded most years and it is thought this was the likely source of the breeding population.


Black Darter                 Sympetrum danae


A vagrant to the recording area with two records. A single male was seen in Greenland Lake on 14/09/04 (JEF) and it or another was on the Dune Ridge on 23/9/04.


Common Darter           Sympetrum striolatum


The commonest dragonfly in the recording area, with records from all ponds and throughout the site. This is often the latest species to be seen with records well into November in some years.


Vagrant Darter             Sympetrum vulgatum


An exceptional vagrant to the reserve with only one record. A female was seen and photographed (see here) by the Dune Pond on 06/09/07. This, the first in Devon for 60 years and the first in the UK for 10 years, was accepted by the BDS records committee.


Yellow-winged Darter             Sympetrum flaveolum


A vagrant to the area with only two records, both in the invasion year of 1995.


Red-veined Darter                   Sympetrum fonscolombii


A vagrant to the area, which has bred. The first was a very fresh teneral male, found drying its wings in Greenland Lake, on the late date of 21st Oct 1995. This had presumably emerged from the Main Pond, it's condition showed it had not come far. Since then there have only been four other records, including a male on the Dune Ridge on 13/08/06 and two on Warren Point in June 2009.




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