British Dragonflies and Damselflies This Web Site

Dragonflies and Damselflies are fantastic creatures. As a keen birder I have always admired their amazing flight control, superb colours and incredible eyes.

I recorded my original close encounters with an SLR film camera but, with the digital age progressing rapidly, good quality camcorders and DVD players were becoming more affordable. I started filming in my spare time in 2002. By then, there were a few excellent field guides available. My objective was to create an identification DVD to supplement these guides.

My original intention was to record each species from the top and the side in a similar fashion to the field guides - but my subjects didn’t always present themselves in the correct pose. I found young and old specimens whose appearances differed from the standard adults. Breeding behaviour was always easily observed.

In an attempt to share all of the observations I was experiencing the project has developed more epic proportions. Hopefully, I’ve concentrated on the key identification features and added a few tips of my own. I still find the variation in colour created by the aging process to be the greatest cause of confusion - I hope that I have included enough clips within the DVDs to help with this.

Still the Best?

In 2016 another set of DVDs on British Dragons and Damsels was published. It covers all the species on the British list along with several extinct species, potential vagrants and/or colonisers. I, probably more than most, would recognize that filming all these Dragons is a fantastic achievement.

Whilst seeing them is of interest, I feel that the inclusion of many serves only to confuse unnecessarily. If you think you have seen something different, their descriptions are readily available in several of the excellent field guides on sale which you probably already own.

I must assume that the inclusion of extra species has led to the author’s claim that it is the most “comprehensive” DVD to date. Numbers would be ONE criteria for this claim. However, I have now had a chance to view it and would like to suggest that my DVDs are more comprehensive in many other respects. Please read the following bullet points that outline areas:

 The Introduction describes the life cycle in far more detail.

 Feeding behaviour is described in more detail and behaviours such as ‘sky-pointing’ are explained fully. Behaviour can be an important aid to identification.

 The importance of habitat requirements and flight seasons, as another aid to identification, is emphasized.

 Tips for Dragon Watching are given such as the use of close focus binoculars or the best time of day for a visit.

 Excluding the larval stages, the ENTIRE life cycle and breeding behaviour for every species is described and illustrated (except for some of the potential colonisers). This creates a short, all-encompassing film on each species over and above the diagnostic features - although these are well covered too. Oviposition sites and techniques can give invaluable clues to ID. Specific habitats are illustrated.

 In virtually all cases, the species description includes images of immature and adult individuals of both sexes. Over mature and many tenerals (newly emerged dragons) are covered as well. These important differences are not covered so extensively by the new DVDs.

 Great care has been taken to use clips unaffected by breezy conditions, partial shading or obstructions - greatly enhancing the viewing experience, particularly for side by side comparisons.

If, like me, you have a passion for dragonflies and damselflies, you will not be entirely happy simply looking at the still paintings or photographs in the field guides available.

Film or video has to be the next best thing to actually seeing these insects in the flesh. These DVDs will offer you that experience.

To find out more about the British Damselflies DVD click on the British Damselflies link above. Video examples can be viewed from that page. A further link will give you details of the species covered.

Similarly, to find more information regarding the British Dragonflies DVD click the British Dragonflies link above.

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 Clips are continuous without the need to jump back to the beginning if a lengthy point is being made.

 My content sticks to a single aspect ratio rather than jumping between 4:3 and widescreen.

 Descriptions are CLEAR and CONCISE without the need to repeat or summarize.

 Clips for side by side comparisons have been carefully chosen to view the insects from the same angle, enabling the salient features to be comprehended far more easily. They have been scaled where appropriate to enable size comparisons in addition to diagnostic features.

 Actual measurements for overall length and wingspan are also given.

 One of the main aids to Darter identification is a view of the side of the thorax and this is clearly illustrated with side by side comparisons.

 Female ‘red’ Darters are usually yellow ochre aging to grey/brown; some turn red looking like the male (andromorphs) and this is illustrated for the common species.

All this leads to my genuine belief that my own DVDs are “more comprehensive” making them STILL a better buy!

Graham Sherwin