The Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) used to be very rare in the UK around the mid 20th Century, but now it is a very common resident (rare in Scotland). The individuals photographed here were both snapped in Bristol, UK.
HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION
The migrant hawker is found in the UK, Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East, Asia, Japan and North Africa. Their preferred habitats include lakes and ponds, but can also be found near woodland and gardens.
Female and male migrant hawkers reach the same length, around 60 - 65mm in length, with a wingspan of about 80mm. The female has a brown thorax with yellow spotting and broad side stripes. The long narrow abdomen is a light brown colour with yellow-green or blue paired spots, edged with black. The second abdominal segment has a mark like a 'golf tee' (as can be seen in the image below). The male is darker and his spots are large and are of a light blue colour. The area under his 'tee' mark is also broader than in the female. The aquatic nymph is cigar-shaped with backward spiked abdominal segments, and is brown in colour.
Its 'tee' shaped marking helps identify this species from similar ones such as the Common Hawker (Aeshna juncea). Also, the migrant hawker has a dark costa (vein running along the main edge of the wing), not seen in A.juncea and the stripes on the top of its thorax are not as broad (antehumeral stripes). In flight it may get confused with the Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis), but A. affinis does not have the broad brown areas to the side of the thorax.
DIET, BEHAVIOUR AND REPRODUCTION
The migrant hawker can be seen darting around on sunny days on the hunt for small flying insects. It can be seen in flight from around July to late October.