Sussex Dragonfly Group

Southern Migrant Hawker (Blue-eyed Hawker)
Aeshna affinis Vander Linden, 1820
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Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Aeshnidae

Southern Migrant Hawker
(Blue-eyed Hawker)
Aeshna affinis

Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Aeshnidae

The male of this migrant species is a very bright blue including its eyes from which it gets its alternative name of ‘Blue-eyed Hawker’. It is a very recent colonist of ditches in certain river valleys and marshy areas within Sussex.

Aeshna affinis
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young male
Photo: Simon Linington
Aeshna affinis
2 / 7
female
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna affinis
3 / 7
male
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna affinis
4 / 7
male
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna affinis
5 / 7
male
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna affinis
6 / 7
male
Photo: Simon Linington
Aeshna affinis
7 / 7
mating
Photo: David Sadler

More images

National status
There was just a single confirmed record during the twentieth century (in 1952). There were then four in southern England during 2006 and in 2010 many individuals were seen in south Essex and north Kent, with oviposition being noted at two sites ( BDS website). Since then the species has spread along considerable stretches of coastal East Anglia and southern England as far as Poole with outlying records from Cornwall, the Bristol Channel and the Lancashire and Yorkshire coasts.

Status in Sussex
This species was not even mooted as a potential colonist in the Dragonflies of Sussex (2004). An adult was reported from Shoreham on 13 July 2006. There were then no records until a male at Southease on 22 August 2015 was found by Richard Mundy and later by Jon Curson. There were then subsequent records in 2018 from the Ouse valley between Southease and Rodmell, West Rise Marsh (Eastbourne) and Rye Harbour. In 2019, there was further expansion to the Knepp Estate, Fairlight, Winchelsea and Pevensey Level. Since then consolidation has continued.

Distribution at 1km scale

Aeshna affinis distribution (all)
Aeshna affinis distribution pre 1980
Aeshna affinis distribution 1980 - 1989
Aeshna affinis distribution 1990 - 1999
Aeshna affinis distribution 2000 - 2009
Aeshna affinis distribution 2010 - 2019
Aeshna affinis distribution 2010 on

Flight times
Preliminary records indicate that it is primarily to be seen from mid June into mid August.

Phenology (adult)

Aeshna affinis phenology (all)
Aeshna affinis phenology pre 1980
Aeshna affinis phenology 1980 - 1989
Aeshna affinis phenology 1990 - 1999
Aeshna affinis phenology 2000 - 2009
Aeshna affinis phenology 2010 - 2019
Aeshna affinis phenology 2010 on
Aeshna affinis habitat
1 / 1
Southern Migrant Hawker habitat at Ouse Valley near Rodmell
Photo: Simon Linington

Habitat
Damp reedy ditches. Surprisingly, after post-emergent dispersal, individuals have been found in woodland e.g., Knowlands Wood near Barcombe in both 2020 (two) and 2021 (four).

Similar species
The potential confusion species are discussed under Southern Hawker (where there is a photographic comparison).

The male of this migrant species is a very bright blue including its eyes from which it gets its alternative name of ‘Blue-eyed Hawker’. It is a very recent colonist of ditches in certain river valleys and marshy areas within Sussex.

Aeshna affinis
1 / 7
young male
Photo: Simon Linington
Aeshna affinis
2 / 7
female
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna affinis
3 / 7
male
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna affinis
4 / 7
male
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna affinis
5 / 7
male
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna affinis
6 / 7
male
Photo: Simon Linington
Aeshna affinis
7 / 7
mating
Photo: David Sadler

National status
There was just a single confirmed record during the twentieth century (in 1952). There were then four in southern England during 2006 and in 2010 many individuals were seen in south Essex and north Kent, with oviposition being noted at two sites ( BDS website). Since then the species has spread along considerable stretches of coastal East Anglia and southern England as far as Poole with outlying records from Cornwall, the Bristol Channel and the Lancashire and Yorkshire coasts.

Status in Sussex
This species was not even mooted as a potential colonist in the Dragonflies of Sussex (2004). An adult was reported from Shoreham on 13 July 2006. There were then no records until a male at Southease on 22 August 2015 was found by Richard Mundy and later by Jon Curson. There were then subsequent records in 2018 from the Ouse valley between Southease and Rodmell, West Rise Marsh (Eastbourne) and Rye Harbour. In 2019, there was further expansion to the Knepp Estate, Fairlight, Winchelsea and Pevensey Level. Since then consolidation has continued.

Distribution at 1km scale

Aeshna affinis distribution (all)
Aeshna affinis distribution bre 1980
Aeshna affinis distribution 1980 - 1989
Aeshna affinis distribution 1990 - 1999
Aeshna affinis distribution 2000 - 2009
Aeshna affinis distribution 2010 - 2019
Aeshna affinis distribution 2020 on

Flight times
Preliminary records indicate that it is primarily to be seen from mid June into mid August.

Phenology (adult)

Aeshna affinis phenology (all)
Aeshna affinis phenology pre 1980
Aeshna affinis phenology 1980 - 1989
Aeshna affinis phenology 1990 - 1999
Aeshna affinis phenology 2000 - 2009
Aeshna affinis phenology 2010 - 2019
Aeshna affinis phenology 2020 on
Aeshna affinis habitat
1 / 1
Southern Migrant Hawker habitat at Ouse Valley near Rodmell
Photo: Simon Linington

Habitat
Damp reedy ditches. Surprisingly, after post-emergent dispersal, individuals have been found in woodland e.g., Knowlands Wood near Barcombe in both 2020 (two) and 2021 (four).

Similar species
The potential confusion species are discussed under Southern Hawker (where there is a photographic comparison).