The county of Bedfordshire

To appreciate the dragonflies and damselflies found in Bedfordshire, it’s useful to know a bit more about the county itself.

Bedfordshire is one of UK’s 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.

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 provided 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 24 breeding species of dragonflies and damselflies.

Bedfordshire outline showing principal rivers. These are good places to find dragonflies and damselflies
Bedfordshire is home to many rivers

Bedfordshire's Odonata

The county has many significant sites of Odonata interest:

  • Priory Country Park
  • Felmersham NR
  • Wyboston Lakes
  • Sundon Chalk Quarry

And as conservation interest grows, more sites are being developed, such as the Forest of Marston Vale, this is good news for any nature lover. Many other sites exist, please let me know of your favourites.

In these pages will find links to the dragonflies and damselflies that may be seen within Bedfordshire’s borders.

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

Checklist

Damselflies

Dragonflies

It is probable that the Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly – Ischnura pumilio  is now extinct in Bedfordshire following the demise of its only habitat at Sundon Chalk Quarry and it has not been seen since 2003. But as if to make up for it, new species like the Downy Emerald  dragonfly – Cordulia aenea and Willow Emerald Damselfly – Chalcolestes viridis are now establishing themselves in Bedfordshire.

So far, I’ve photographed 21 of the 24 species occurring in Bedfordshire, leaving a few more to find.