It seems to have been an outstanding years for dragonflies; out at Cliffe Pools, the air was thick with them today. A few large ones, quite a lot of medium-sized, and thousands of small-sized, some of them apparently pretty tiny. The only one that landed within sight of my camera though, was this little brown one with a red stripe down its back. I’m pretty confused about this; there are several small darter species that have red males with the four red spots on their back at the base of the wings. Most of these have brown females. But I can not find any species with a brown abdomen with a red central stripe and the four red spots. They also should all have a couple of black blobs towards the tail, which seem to be completely missing on this specimen, or hopelessly faded. I thought it must be a male, but either immature, or perhaps out of breeding colours, it being so late in the season?
In the end I posted it on Twitter to see if anyone else knew the answer, and got the following ID from no less than ace nature artist Richard Lewington, who was the illustrator of my dragonfly field guide!
"That’s an old female Common Darter. Females often become reddish as they age."