Keeled Skimmer - Orthetrum coerulescens
Adult sizeOverall length: 36 - 45mm Hindwing length: 28 - 33mm
Distinguishing featuresThe smaller and thinner of the two skimmer dragonflies. Males have an all blue abdomen. Characteristically as with the Black-tailed Skimmer they will happily perch on open ground, rocks and logs and have a ‘hunched’ appearance as their wings tend to point forward.
Identification - for help with terms see glossary
HabitatThe Keeled Skimmer is closely associated with small rivers and streams in acid peat regions but may also be found in acidic standing waters such as mires, bogs and ponds.
BehaviourMales will set up small territories along open banks where they will fly out often to inspect intruders, other males and other species returning to the same perch or patch. Like Black-tailed Skimmers they will characteristically bask in the open, often on exposed banks, stones or logs. Females can quite easily be found foraging on heathland away from water.
Status and distributionHas a very patchy distribution reflecting is restriction to acidic conditions but found throughout the United Kingdom. Is a very common species on heathland sites in Dorset, less common elsewhere.
Flight periodMain flight period is May to September peaking in mid June to mid August.
Males could be confused with Black-tailed Skimmer, and male Scarce Chaser but lack black tail markings and are smaller. Females are superficially similar to Common Darter females but these have two black markings on tip of abdomen and lack a definite keel.
Click on the photos below to enlarge..
All photographs by kind permission & © of Ken Dolbear unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.