Common Hawker - Aeshna juncea
Adult sizeOverall length: 65 - 80mm Hindwing length: 40 - 47mm
Distinguishing featuresA large, fast flying and dark looking hawker, having a very bright yellow leading edge to their wings (costa). They are more common in northern and western Britain. They rarely settle and can be difficult to approach, for this reason they may be under recorded. Very uncommon in Dorset.
Identification - for help with terms see glossary
HabitatWill breed in a wide variety of still waters preferring acidic and neutral waters. Common in upland bogs, moorland and heath. Associated with heath in Dorset but in low numbers.
BehaviourMales are very active and can spend a long time on the wing rarely perching. Males and females often fly high into the tree canopies to hunt. Can be active in overcast conditions and into dusk.
Status and distributionCommon and widespread across northern and western Britain, mainly absent from east and south of the UK. Seems to be rare in Dorset, scattered sightings, but could be overlooked.
Flight periodMain flight period is late June to October, peaking in July and July.
The Common Hawker can occur in habitat that supports 3 other blue Hawkers in the south: Migrant Hawker, Southern Hawker and Hairy Dragonfly. The yellow costa is good diagnostic feature and thin or reduced antehumeral stripes. Care should be taken separating female Common Hawker with Southern Hawker. The latter has thick green antehumeral stripes.
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All photographs by kind permission & © of Ken Dolbear unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.