Dragonfly-Days

....for South Wales Dragonfly enthusiasts


Monmouthshire Locations below           Glamorgan Locations Here

The map outlined below is the area within South Wales where the locations listed can be found, you simply scroll down the page to find the information you need on the location and the species likely to be found there.
Click for larger image
South Wales consists primarily of the counties of Monmouthshire and Glamorgan. Much confusion has been caused by the many boundary changes over the years, but for Dragonfly-Days the area on the map to the left is covered.

West Glamorgan has not been included in this locations guide.

Each location has been chosen for its accessibility and the variety of habitat and species it supports.

Most locations covered are within thirty minutes of the M4 motorway or other primary roads.

Several
new locations have recently been added to this website, which will also take you into the superb Brecon Beacons National Park.

River Wye / Afon Gwy

Let us begin our Dragonfly-Days with a visit to the River Wye, this beautiful river is born in Wales lent to England and returns home to meander to the sea at Chepstow in Gwent. The photo below shows the Wye just before it re-enters Wales on the Monmouthshire / Herefordshire border.
During it's journey through Gwent the River Wye supports several scarce and uncommon species of dragonfly and damselfly as well as the more common yet equally interesting ones.

Travel to Monmouth and explore it's banks at Dixton, from early May if your fortunate you may well see Common Club-tail which despite the name is a very local insect throughout it's British range.

The White-legged Damselfly is another uncommon species that finds the River Wye to it's liking, it's on the wing from late May.
As natural spectacles go any Wye-side meadow could dance to the movement of newly emerging Banded Demoiselle in late spring or early summer, a delightful sight that's not easily forgotten.

The following list includes most of the species recorded from the Wye (along it's length), and many of the species I've listed can be found during their flight season during the river's journey through Gwent.
Beautiful Demoiselle
Azure Damselfly
Brown Hawker
Black-tailed Skimmer
Banded Demoiselle
Common Blue Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly
Keeled Skimmer
Emerald Damselfly
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Common Club-tail
Common Darter
White-legged Damselfly
Common Hawker
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Ruddy Darter
Large Red Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Four-spotted Chaser
Black Darter
Red-eyed Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Broad-bodied Chaser
 
Note: Lesser Emperor, Red-veined Darter and Yellow-winged Darter have been ommitted from the Wye River species list because there is not sufficient corroborative evidence to support a positive record. I'm informed by Bob Dennison the Radnorshire (Vice County 43) Dragonfly Recorder that all three species have 'probably' been seen on or along the Radnorshire section of the Wye or it's near environs in recent years. We must therefore assume that its just a matter of time before these species are accorded positive record status.

    River Usk / Afon Wysg

Flowing through the Brecon Beacons before the rich farmland of the Vale of Usk is reached, this lovely river holds most of the dragonfly species that favour the slower flowing water habitat. The Usk does rather well with a very respectable eighteen species recorded (along it's length) and most are also to be found in Gwent.
It can easily be walked on either bank by using the Usk Valley Walk Footpath from such easily accessed locations as Abergavenny or Usk, or you can try exploring via the many delightful villages.

It continues it's 60 mile journey from it's source near the Mynydd Du in Carmarthenshire and then journeys on through the Usk Valley and the City of Newport before it meets the sea at Uskmouth.

Left: The lovely River Usk under a mid-summer sky.
Lots of small feeder streams and adjacent meadow ponds and pools can be accessed from the River Usk, making it a super place to spend Dragonfly-Days and is anything more evocative of high summer than lazy days quietly walking along a riverbank searching out our winged friends.

The following list offers the visitor some idea of what species are to be found on the River Usk, but your advised to refer as to what time of summer coincides with the insects 'flight season' on the species page.
Beautiful Demoiselle
Azure Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Black-tailed Skimmer
Banded Demoiselle
Common Blue Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly
Common Darter
Emerald Damselfly
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Black Darter
White-legged Damselfly
Common Hawker
Four-spotted Chaser
 
Large Red Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Broad-bodied Chaser
 

Newport Wetlands NNR

One of the most important wetland reserves in South Wales, created in an area previously used as a 'fly-ash' waste tipping site by Uskmouth Power Station - which is still a next door neighbour!
When Cardiff Bay Barrage was built
this site was selected and developed as an alternative reserve for the dispossessed waders and wildfowl to re-locate under the auspices of the Countryside Council for Wales* as some consolation this has proved successful.

Seven lagoons supporting reedbeds, wetland grasses and saltmarsh prove more than just a magnet for birdlife, its only natural that our dragonflies and damselflies love it too!

*Now Natural Resources Wales.

Spread along the coastal strip are many areas that are either seasonally underwater or permanently saturated or pooled, therefore creating a wonderfully diverse habitat choice for more species of dragonflies and damselflies than perhaps anywhere else in Monmouthshire.
The reserve is less than 4 miles from Newport and is accessed from Junction 24 of the M4 - follow the Brown Duck road-signs.

Parking facilities are provided at the Uskmouth end of the reserve. The visitor centre was opened in 2007 and is operated by the RSPB, refreshment facilities are provided as are a shop where books can be purchased and there is also the option to try out the latest RSPB binoculars.

There is limited parking available on the road to Goldcliff at the southern end of the reserve.

Information leaflets about the reserve can be found at the visitor centre.
Throughout the reserve you will come across a network of what appear at first sight to be slow flowing mini canals, they date from Roman times when the Gwent levels were reclaimed, locally they are known as reens, the photograph below illustrates part of a reen drainage system.
The reens provide a multitude of dragonfly species the ideal environment for breeding and are a fascinating habitat to study our subjects in a peaceful and reasonably accessible manner that's well suited to the less mobile enthusiast.

At least seventeen species have been recorded from this wonderful wetland location and I can heartily recommend it to anyone new to the world of dragonflies, its perhaps the ideal place to learn.

Below is the list of species recorded from the Newport Wetlands. My thanks go to Kevin Dupe the reserve manager for help with these records.
Beautiful Demoiselle
Common Blue Damselfly
Hairy Dragonfly
Ruddy Darter
Banded Demoiselle
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Four-spotted Chaser
Red-veined Darter
Emerald Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Broad-bodied Chaser
 
Large Red Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Black-tailed Skimmer
 
Azure Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly
Common Darter
 
Strangely the Variable Damselfly has not been recorded from the Newport Wetlands reserve yet, considering that just a few miles away across the Severn on the Somerset levels the insect is locally common it could just possibly be a matter of it being overlooked, identification can prove problematic if your searching among large numbers of the other blue species, patience and close observation are what are needed.

I would be rather surprised if Lesser Emperor or Yellow-winged Darter have not as yet visited the reserve and would think that both species will be included on the above species list sooner rather than later.

Magor Marsh

This is a flagship reserve for the Gwent Wildlife Trust and was the first reserve ever purchased by the Trust. It was my original intention to include this fascinating remnant of the once widespread Gwent Levels when I first created this website, try as I might at the time I could get no definite species list for the reserve and my own knowledge of the reserve was rather scant, since then I have made several fact finding visits and been in contact with several of the staff and other local enthusiast's who have helped enormously in providing the following information.
_NEW6515Magor Marsh (1072 x 712)
The water levels are controlled by a system of sluices in the reens. The entire reserve is fed by underground springs that percolate through the limestone rocks that makes the water slightly alkaline, this contradicts the more usual wetland habitat where the water is acidic.

The reserve is flat and also naturally marshy. Boardwalks have been built to provide excellent access throughout the reserve, they prove ideal for wheelchairs or the less mobile visitor, so your never too far away from the dragonfly action.
 
 
The loss of our once extensive wetlands make reserves such as Magor Marsh vitally important not just for dragonflies but for all the critters that need a wetland environment, recently the reserve has initiated a programme to introduce the nationally threatened Water Vole, a species that has been ravaged by Mink predation, we can only hope that this excellent initiative is successful, there is an ancient relationship of association between dragonflies and water voles!!!
The recent purchase of meadows that are adjacent to the reserve increases the size beyond its original 90 acres.

Apart from the reens there are also more open areas of reed infringed water such as that shown by the image on the right, these more open areas are ideal for the larger species of dragonflies to 'hawk' and your very likely to see the Emperor  Dragonfly using such space during high summer. Magor Marsh is one of those places that could turn up something special in anything like a good summer.
The most upto date records show 18 species have been positively recorded from Magor Marsh and two of these species have been accorded vagrant status. The enigmatic Variable Damselfly is considered absent from the reserve but adults have been reliably recorded from within two miles of Magor but this area is worryingly still under threat from the proposed new M4 motorway and part of the reserve is under threat of a compulsory purchase order!

The Four-spotted Chaser is not (supposedly) resident on the reserve so has been denoted vagrant status on the species list provided below. The Yellow-winged Darter** was recorded here during  the 'Great Darter Influx' of 1995 which was a year that saw an invasion of the species (among others) from many parts of the British Isles.

Black Darter* can wander far from their breeding areas and are lovers of acidic waters but have been recorded from Magor Marsh.
Beautiful Demoiselle
Common Blue Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly
Common Darter
Banded Demoiselle
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Four-spotted Chaser*
Ruddy Darter
Emerald Damselfly
Hairy Dragonfly
Broad-bodied Chaser
Yellow-winged Darter**
Large Red Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Black-tailed Skimmer
 
Azure Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Black Darter*
 

   Heads of the Valley's - Feeder Ponds - Gwent     NEW!!!

The former iron and steel making industries of the Heads of the Valleys, particularily around the Tredegar, Ebbw Vale, Beaufort and Brynmawr area have left us some excellent 'feeder ponds' that have become colonised by some uncommon or locally scarce dragonfly species. There are also still some wet areas that the moorland species prefer, this is an area rich in dragonfly and damselfly species, but the entire area is under threat of development and the local authority Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council have done nothing to protect any part of the area by using their powers to create a Local Nature Reserve in the core areas where Brown Hawker and Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly are known to breed, and to confuse matters some of the ponds are privately owned.
Magor Marsh can be accessed from Newport by taking the A48 east towards Chepstow. At Langstone turn right onto the B4245 heading toward Magor, continue on through Magor and then turn right on seeing the signpost for Redwick. Take a further right turn soon afterwards (also signposted Redwick) and follow the road with the ruins of the priory on your left for about half a mile. You will find the reserve entrance on your right, there is a small visitors car park. Please note that dogs are not allowed on the reserve.

If your coming off the M4 motorway leave at Junction 23A and follow the signs into Magor village on the B4245.

A local bus service (Number 61) from Newport stops directly outside the reserve.
River Wye coming home to Wales
River Usk in mid-summer
Perfect Dragonfly Habitat
I've been privileged to spend many happy hours in this fascinating environment and very often the emphasis has been to monitor the status of one of South Wales most uncommon dragonflies the superb Brown Hawker, the feeder ponds on the Heads of the Valley's is the only place in the region where it's actually been proven to breed successfully.

Right click on the beautifully captured image on the left, this is an ovipositing (egg laying) female Brown Hawker, the photo was taken by Gary Howells an award winning photographer and recent convert to the world of dragonflies, this image probably confirms breeding proof.
Myself and Gary have discovered a few ponds within the Heads of the Valley's area where Brown Hawker can be found and where breeding has been positively confirmed, the insect is still holding on in the area, the threat of off-road motors and general vandalism has not exactly helped this fine creatures prospects and I would stress once again that the powers that be should do all they can to provide proper protection and help conserve the habitat for this and the many other species of odonata that frequent this potentially superb location. 
Incredible numbers in Black Darter Roost
Take a close look at the number of insects in the photo on the right. This Black Darter roost was reported to me by Gary Howells in late August 2011, as soon as I had the message I quickly travelled up to the bog pools were Gary (who lives locally) had discovered them, I was absolutely gobsmacked to see literally thousands of Black Darters in the surrounding reeds and rushes, as we carefully walked through the plants the insects drifted up in clouds, this is a sight I have never witnessed before or since and the experience will stay with me.

Apart from Black Darter the bog pools are home to Common Hawker, Emerald Damselfly and also the enigmatic Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly.

The larger dragonflies are also to be found on the margins of the feeder ponds, Southern and Migrant Hawker are often disturbed from the heather and other herbage that surrounds the ponds, and the imperial Emperor Dragonfly often wages war on those that dare to invade it's territory, although I have often watched male Broad-bodied Chaser not only challenge his majesty but actually move him away from a favourite perching place!

There is much to enjoy in the Heads of the Valley's feeder pond area, but it can prove a physical if rewarding challenge owing to the size and nature of the area it covers.
Black Darter Roost © Gary Howells 2011
The following list of eighteen species has been recorded from the Heads of the Valley's (Gwent) feeder ponds, I must however stress that this is by no means a definitive species list for the general area it covers, but on the whole I believe this list can generally be accepted as a reasonable species assessment.
Beautiful Demoiselle
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Brown Hawker
Black-tailed Skimmer
Emerald Damselfly
Scarce Blue-tailed Damsel
Emperor Dragonfly
Black Darter
Large Red Damselfly
Common Hawker
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Common Darter
Azure Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Four-spotted Chaser
 
Common Blue Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Broad-bodied Chaser
 

Llangorse Lake / Llyn Llangors - Brecknockshire    NEW!!!

Lets go outside the Dragonfly-Days area and into the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park to visit the largest natural freshwater body in South Wales, Llangors. Surprisingly lakes and reservoirs are not the best places to find either damselflies or dragonflies, Llangors however has some very interesting areas adjacent to the lake and it is in these areas that the dragonfly seeker should really look.
You need to spend time in a place to get to know it and do it justice, my visits to the lovely location that is Llyn Llangors go back many years, but I've only been specifically studying and photographing odonata here for the last seven or eight years - when weather permits!

I suggest you do a semi-circular walk around the lake starting at Llangasty on the western side of the lake, you can park near the church and then follow the path towards the renewed Llangasty bird hide. many of the lakes margins can get rather muddy and although there are boardwalks here and there, do consider wellingtons - cos' wet feet are no fun!
Hedgerows are often great places to search out dragonflies, if your search is in early morning occasionally you can find some of the larger dragonflies still roosting, often covered in condensation and waiting for the warmth of the sun to spur them into activity and hawking for breakfast. There are quite a lot of good hedgerows worth searching around and about Llyn Llangors and often your rewarded with species such as the superb Southern or Migrant Hawker or if your very fortunate the powerful and well named Emperor Dragonfly.
Keeping your eyes peeled along stream margins such as those shown on the right will provide the observant with an opportunity to compare differences between the forms of damselfly species such as Large Red and Blue-tailed, this can cause ID confusion for even the most experienced dragonfly watcher, but the more you put in to observing the less confusing it becomes.

Its especially worth mentioning that one of Britain's Red Data List species the Variable Damselfly can be found here, the Red Data List includes species that are considered near threatened.
Keith Noble is the Dragonfly Recorder for the county of Brecknock and I know that Keith is always pleased to receive records. Do seriously consider sending any sightings you have to knoble.kn at btinternet.com but do remember to use the correct email address protocol if contacting Keith - (I've used at instead of @ to prevent any spam abuse etc).

I've been fortunate to have access to quite a lot of historical records for Llangors Lake and it's immediate environs and these records produce a list of (probably) twenty species. Some of these species are simply vagrants while a few others are either under recorded or locally uncommon. Variable Damselfly can be easily confused with Azure Damselfly and in recent years the former species has evidently been recorded in healthy numbers, the Azure however is rarely plentiful in larger water bodies and it sometimes takes a determined search and practiced eye to seperate the darker forms of the females of Azure from Variable.
Beautiful Demoiselle*
Azure Damselfly
Common Hawker
Four-spotted Chaser
Banded Demoiselle
Variable Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Broad-bodied Chaser
Large Red Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Black-tailed Skimmer
Emerald Damselfly
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly
Black Darter*
Large Red Damselfly
Hairy Dragonfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Common Darter

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www.dragonfly-days.co.uk © Bill Jones 2008-16

                                                Glamorgan Locations Page

Magor Marsh Reen
Magor Marsh
Ovipositing Brown Hawker
Llangors Lake Vista
Stream supplying Llangors Lake
*Denotes irregular site visitor.            Note: Brown Hawker has been recorded from Llangors.
Wetlands reen at sunset
Uskmouth lagoon at Newport Wetlands
Usk Valley Walk Logo
Complete list of Dragonfly and Damselfly species recorded in Monmouthshire (Gwent).
Banded Demoiselle
Scarce Blue-tailed Damsel
Lesser Emperor*
Ruddy Darter
Beautiful Demoiselle
Red-eyed Damselfly
Common Club-tailed
Red-veined Darter**
Emerald Damselfly
Small Red-eyed Damselfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Banded Darter***
Large Red Damselfly
Hairy Dragonfly
Four-spotted Chaser
Yellow-winged Darter**
White-legged Damselfly
Common Hawker
Broad-bodied Chaser
 
Azure Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Black-tailed Skimmer
 
Variable Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Keeled Skimmer
 
Common Blue Damselfly
Brown Hawker
Black Darter
 
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly
Common Darter
 
* Denotes Rare Vagrant    ** Denotes Scarce or Rare Migrant   *** Denotes Rare Vagrant (Only British record).
* Denotes irregular site visitor   ** Denotes Rare Migrant
31 Species comprise the latest Monmouthshire (Watsonian Vice County 35) list as at July 2016.