Nationally notable dragonfly appears again at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre

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A clubtail dragonfly was rescued from the water by Wetland Boat Safari guide Joel Coram at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre on Sunday, June 2.

This species is classified as ‘nationally notable’ as it only breeds on five UK rivers, Arun, Thames, Wey, Dee and Severn.

Clubtail dragonflies are only seen at Arundel Wetland Centre every few years. According to David Chelmick, President of the British Dragonfly Society.

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“A clubtail dragonfly’s life cycle is 2-3 years, from egg to adult, which is likely why the sightings are two-three years apart," he said.

Clubtail dragonfly on boat driver Joel Coram's hand.Clubtail dragonfly on boat driver Joel Coram's hand.
Clubtail dragonfly on boat driver Joel Coram's hand.

David visited Arundel Wetland Centre in 2012 after early sightings of the dragonfly and declared that the channels and waterways in the wetland reserve are their ideal habitat. David was doing a five-year survey of the Arun River to further understand what features of the river suit the clubtail dragonfly, which does not live on any other Sussex or southern flowing English river.

Joel Coram, the dragonfly rescuer, has been driving for the Wetland Safari Boats at WWT Arundel for three years as part of the Learning Team. Joel said ”It’s the first time I’ve seen a clubtail dragonfly! I spotted it struggling on a lily pad in the water and its wings were wet.”

Joel picked the dragonfly up and it spent the rest of the 20-minute trip on his hand, drying out its wings – when Joel pulled the boat in at the dock, the dragonfly departed.

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WWT Arundel Reserve Manager Suzi Lanaway said: “In June and early July the breeding male club tailed dragonflies hold a territory and drive other males from their area so they can mate with any nearby females.”

Mal clubtail at WWT Arundel thinks boat rope is a potential date in 2018.Mal clubtail at WWT Arundel thinks boat rope is a potential date in 2018.
Mal clubtail at WWT Arundel thinks boat rope is a potential date in 2018.

Clubtails are a medium sized dragonfly, easily identified by its club shaped tail and distinctly separate eyes. The eyes of most dragonflies meet on top of their head. Club-tails emerge yellow in colour. The males turn green as they mature, including their eyes, while the females remain yellow have a thicker abdomen.

The Wetland Boat Safari runs daily at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre, book at the admission desk for £3 per person and go dragonfly spotting this June!