It was feeding 8-16 feet in the air and was intermediate in size between Common Hawker and Common Darter. I found the dragonfly to be very obviously smaller than Common Hawker – a size difference I wouldn’t have expected from reading the field guides. Because of its small size, it didn’t give the impression of being a ‘miniature aeroplane’ like the Common Hawker does. The individual I saw hawked with the end of its tail curved slightly.
This size difference was accompanied by a feeding behaviour noticeably different from that of Common Hawker.
It fed far more frantically than Common Hawker, taking detours off its flight path far more frequently to flycatch – dipping down one second then jumping up the next. Similarly, it also changed direction far more often when hunting. Changing direction frequently and randomly, it covered a smaller area than Common Hawker when feeding.
To those familiar with the jizz and behaviour of Common Hawker and Common Darter, Migrant Hawker should stick out like a sore thumb – the difference in size and behaviour between the two species is obvious.
It’s worth pointing out that Migrant Hawkers can turn up just about anywhere; they don’t just frequent wetland habitats. The one I saw was several hundred metres from the nearest pond, hawking along a woodland edge.
Also worth mentioning, I’ve seen a few Red Admirals powering about recently, including one today at Eglinton and two yesterday at Auchenharvie. Also a couple of Peacocks during the past week: 1 at Shewalton Wood on Sunday and one at Garnock East on Tuesday. There was also a Common Hawker at Garnock East on Tuesday, along with dozens of Common Darters.
(Photos: Common Darter at Garnock East)