NN8492 : Unusually Coloured Male Common Hawker (Aeshna juncea)

taken 9 years ago, near to River Feshie [water Feature], Highland, Great Britain

Unusually Coloured Male Common Hawker (Aeshna juncea)
Unusually Coloured Male Common Hawker (Aeshna juncea)
I found this dragonfly, chilled by a passing shower, sitting on the heather by the side of the track; after warming up in my hand, he flew off in a westerly direction. The identification of this insect has not been straightforward; it was first identified as an Azure Hawker, but a later examination of the photograph by experts from the British Dragonfly Society has confirmed it as a Common Hawker. Adrian Parr of the BDS sent me this:

"...Azure Hawkers don't really have long thoracic stripes, and also possess a relatively small area of contact between the eyes - a structural feature that is invariable, unlike colours. The complete thoracic stripes and what seems to be a relatively large area of eye contact in your individual mean that it's unlikely to be an Azure Hawker of either sex. Instead, it more closely resembles a male Common Hawker (the strongly waisted body-shape confirms that it is a male), but with all the yellow markings replaced by blue. This aberration may also explain why the costa isn't particularly bright yellow, either.

'All-blue' colour schemes do exist elsewhere in the Aeshna (Hawker) genus, for instance the Siberian Hawker A. crenata looks very similar to your individual. However this species is very large, occurs no closer than Finland and has very subtly different markings to your individual. Thus it doesn't seem to be that species. Certain American hawkers (called mosaic darners over there!) are also all-blue, but I've not as yet found a close fit. Thus I believe an aberrant Common Hawker to be the likely identity of your dragonfly (similar, though less extreme, individuals are shown on the web at LinkExternal link & LinkExternal link. Given that 'blue-phase' females - where all abdominal spots are blue - are known in several species of hawkers, it perhaps doesn't seem unreasonable that 'ultra-blue' male equivalents also exist...."

So, there we have it - the photograph shows a male Common Hawker - (Aeshna juncea). Thanks to all who contributed to the discussion
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NN8492, 16 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
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Date Taken
Wednesday, 29 July, 2009   (more nearby)
Submitted
Thursday, 8 September, 2011
Geographical Context
Uplands  Wild Animals, Plants and Mushrooms  Heath, Scrub 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NN 8485 9258 [10m precision]
WGS84: 57:0.5971N 3:53.8655W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NN 8484 9261
View Direction
South-southeast (about 157 degrees)
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