The county of Bedfordshire

Befordshire Rivers, click to enlarge

Bedfordshire, showing its major rivers. Click the image to see the full size version

Bedfordshire is one of the smaller counties, situated in the south east of England. Although lacking in natural lakes and large areas of woodland, it supports a variety of habitats well suited to dragonflies and damselflies. Collectively this family of insects is called Odonata.

Dragonflies and water go hand in hand and the most significant waterway in Bedfordshire is the River Great Ouse, traversing the north of the county, entering at Turvey at the west and leaving near Wyboston at the east. The River Ivel and River Flit flow through the south-east before joining the Great Ouse north of Sandy. The River Lea begins in Bedfordshire, winding in a south-easterly direction before leaving the county to become a tributary to the River Thames.

There are a number of lakes in the county, but are all man-made. With Bedfordshire being a former centre of the brick making industry, many of them are former clay pits. Along with old gravel pits these can provide excellent habitats for Odonata as long as the water has plenty of emergent vegetation and the surrounding area supports enough insect life to feed upon.

Bedfordshire's waters are in the main of good quality, supporting 21 breeding species of dragonflies and damselflies.

Bedfordshire's Odonata

The county has many significant sites of Odonata interest:

In the left hand navigation area you will find links to the dragonflies and damselflies that currently breed within Bedfordshire's borders.

I have included links to proven breeding species, but as migrants do occasionally venture in to darkest Bedfordshire, I will put pages up for those species as they turn up.


So far, I've photographed 19 of the 21 species breeding in Bedfordshire, leaving a couple more to find.

It is more than likely that Ischnura pumilio - Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly is now extinct in Bedfordshire following the demise of it's only habitat at Sundon Chalk Quarry. It has not been seen since 2003, and I've removed it from the list below. But as if to make up for it, Cordulia aenea - Downy Emerald is now resident in Bedfordshire and a proven breeding species.

I've outlined the list in the table below:

Scientific Name
English Name
Calopteryx splendens Banded Demoiselle
Lestes sponsa Emerald Damselfly
Coenagrion puella Azure Damselfly
Erythromma najas Red-eyed Damselfly
  Erythromma viridulum Small Red-eyed Damselfly
Pyrrhosoma nymphula Large Red Damselfly
Enallagma cyathigerum Common Blue Damselfly
Ischnura elegans Blue-tailed Damselfly
Platycnemis pennipes White-legged Damselfly
Aeshna cyanea Southern Hawker
Aeshna grandis Brown Hawker
Aeshna mixta Migrant Hawker
Anax imperator Emperor Dragonfly
Brachytron pratense Hairy Dragonfly
  Cordulia aenea Downy Emerald
Libellula depressa Broad-bodied Chaser
Libellula fulva Scarce Chaser
Libellula quadrimaculata Four-spotted Chaser
Orthetrum cancellatum Black-tailed Skimmer
Sympetrum sanguineum Ruddy Darter
Sympetrum striolatum Common Darter
Denotes spotted and featured in the galleries


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