The Common Darter Dragonfly (Sympetrum striolatum) is one of the smaller British species of dragonflies. The male is a rich bright red in colour
and the female varies from shades of green to orange and even red when mature. This individual has just emerged from life as a larvae living below water.
The Common Darter is on the wing from the middle of June here in the East of England and when I first became interested in wildlife and nature conservation, books stated “June – October” and it is the last dragonfly species you will see in the year. In the early 90’s I can remember recording this species into the first few days of November and this year 16 -17 years later my last date was 26th November and I expect within the next 5 years they will be recorded into the first few days of December.
In late autumn they are always looking for somewhere bright and warm to sit and absorb the suns heat
After strong winds we have to check all livestock fencing and paths on the reserves to ensure no fallen trees have damaged or blocked them.
As I was walking along checking sheep fencing I noticed a movement from the corner of my eye. I looked around to see a Common Darter Dragonfly (Sympetrum striolatum) landing on a fence post.
The latest date I had recorded one of these previously was the 14th November and with the cold weather we had had recently I was surprised to find one on the 19th.
This particular site also has a lot of Horse Hoof Fungus AKA False Tinder Fungus (Fomes fomentarius) growing on Birches.
To obtain amadou I find it best to collect young specimens like those on the right of the picture as they are almost all amadou, with almost no spore tubes and the outer layer is much easier to remove.
This specimen was interesting as at sometime a small Birch twig had broken away from the tree and had then been engulfed by the fungus.
If however you have a specimen with a lot of spore tube do not discard it as this too once dried will take a spark if the surface is roughed up with a knife.
To find out what I do with the amadou layer take a look here http://fenlaners.blogspot.com/2008/08/false-tinder-fungus-amadou.html