Updating the status and distribution of Hertfordshire's dragonflies

We are now well into the 2016 dragonfly flight season and the first sightings of scarcer species for the year have been made (Downy Emerald, Cordulia aenea, and Scarce Emerald Damselfly, Lestes dryas). Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, and we will have another interesting year.

It has now been over ten years since the end of the field work for the 2000-2005 Hertfordshire Dragonfly Atlas. The last decade (in particular the last few years) has been an exciting time for dragonfly enthusiasts within the county, with the occurrence of several species that had never previously been recorded in the county as well as others that went unrecorded for over 50 years.

While it is records of new, and scarce, species that are often considered most exciting, it is also likely that there have been changes in the distribution of some of the commoner, more widespread species in the county since the atlas survey. Records of all species are of interest, including records of the species that are most common and widespread. Please submit records of all dragonfly and damselfly species, preferably with a grid reference that identifies the 1km grid square where the species was recorded. Even records of low numbers of common species in garden ponds or ditches are of interest, in some regions there may be little other suitable habitat.

Ad hoc records can be useful, but if you visit sites regularly, and are confident with identification, consider submitting 'complete site lists'. Making lists of all of the species that you record during each visit encourages the inclusion of even the more common species with submitted records. Additional detail, such as the number of each species present and any breeding activity observed, is not essential but it can make records even more valuable (particularly the presence of emerging adults or the shed larval skins they leave behind). All records submitted via the HNHS will be added to the British Dragonfly Society database, so may help to assess national trends.

If you require any information on dragonfly recording please make contact using the following email address: dragonflies@hnhs.org

June Crew recognised in New Year honours

June Crew

We are delighted to report that June Crew, a stalwart contributor to natural history in our county, has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen's New Year honours list.

The medal recognises her "voluntary service to Natural History and the community in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire".

Woodland Trust and BTO honour HNHS members

(c) Judith Parry / WTML

Congratulations to HNHS member Andrew Steele on winning the Woodland Trust's national Acorn Award – and to former Herts Bird Club Chair Ken Smith on being awarded the British Trust for Ornithology's prestigious Tucker Medal.

The Woodland Trust award recognises Andrew's work recording butterflies at Heartwood Forest, where he walks a fixed monitoring route every week from April to the end of September. The BTO's Tucker Medal is awarded for outstanding service to the Trust.

Autumn Meeting hears about the conservation value of grazing animals

Legacy Grazing Project Red Poll cattle

More than 75 HNHS members and their friends attended the Society's Autumn Meeting and AGM on Saturday 4 November  at the Affinity Water offices in Hatfield.

One theme to emerge from a series of well-received presentations was the value – in both conservation and money-saving terms – of grazing animals used to restore and maintain sensitive habitats in nature reserves.