While inspecting one of the ponds in Tattenhoe yesterday (31st July) I spotted an Emperor that stood out from the rest nearby. With green eyes and a largely brown abdomen with a blue segment beneath the wings, it was almost immediately clear this was a male Lesser Emperor. Getting sharp, detailed pictures was a bit of a challenge as he spent several minutes patrolling the pond, occasionally getting into fights with the other male Emperors before disappearing over a meadow nearby. Fortunately, the few I did get, while blurry and a little distant, were clear enough to show the distinctive features.
After its first appearance in the UK in 1996, this species has slowly appeared throughout England and Wales, breeding across an increasing range of sites, becoming less of a vagrant and more established coloniser. They have already been present in Buckinghamshire for several years but this is the first one to have ever been recorded in Milton Keynes, verified by the British Dragonfly Society’s Bucks County Recorder Alan Nelson.
Having skimmed past them in my odonata books over the past few years, it was amazing to finally see one, out the blue and virtually on my doorstep!
Unfortunately there was no sign of him today, 1st August 2020, in the same location or around any of the other ponds nearby. There is a good chance he may have just been passing by, especially with the strong southerly breeze from yesterday afternoon onwards. Still, with recent sightings of them at Tring and Wilstone Reservoirs over multiple days recently, it is worth keeping an eye out for them around MK’s large ponds and lakes. If you find any in MK or any other part of Bucks, be sure to report them via The British Dragonfly Society: https://british-dragonflies.org.uk/recording/submit-your-records/