Damselflies and Dragonflies

17 species of Dragonfly and Damselfly (Odonata) have been recorded in the area as of 2016, with historic records from 1835-7 and 1897 of an additional one - the Emerald Damselfly - from Wanstead Park.

The River Roding by the Exchange Lands hosts a colony of Banded Demoiselles, which are occasionally also sighted in Wanstead Park and the City of London Cemetery, although these may be individuals straying from the Roding. In all parts of the area, Common Blue damselflies and Azure damselflies are common, albeit a bit difficult to tell apart unless looked at closely. Similarly common is the Blue-tailed damselfly, which is happily much more readily identifiable as well as being a particularly attractive species.The earliest damselfly species usually seen is the Large Red damselfly, which breeds annually in a small garden pond in Capel Road as well as elsewhere. Red-eyed damselflies are not as common as the blues, but there are populations particularly in Wanstead Park. The Small Red-eyed damselfly was first observed in this area on Alexandra Lake in July 2007, but has increased rapidly since then and is now quite common on many lakes and ponds. In September 2015 the first Willow Emerald known in East London was spotted in a garden in Aldersbrook, and another was seen and photographed by Kathy H. by the Heronry Pond in Wanstead Park on 15th October 2017. In September 2018, a couple of weeks after Kathy had spotted another at the west end of Heronry Pond, 10 pairs were seen coupled in approximately the same location. One coupled pair and at least 5 individuals were seen on 26th September by Alexandra Lake, all on willow at the south edge of the lake. The first in my garden was on 12th August 2022.

Of the dragonflies, the Common Darter, Broad-bodied Chaser and the Black-tailed Skimmer are perhaps our most common species, and these may be seen easily in Wanstead Park and on the Flats, plus other locations such as the City of London Cemetery. The Four-spotted Chaser has only seen twice, and bothtimes by Heronry Pond in Wanstead Park on 3rd July 2010 and 13th July 2013. The Ruddy Darter is another less-than-common species; it has been seen in Wanstead Park, although numbers were seen by the smaller of the Hollow Ponds on Leyton Flats in August 2012.The Emperor, may be seen in all the aforementioned locations, as well as the River Roding adjacent to Aldersbrook Exchange Lands. Brown Hawkers, Southern Hawkers and Migrant Hawkers are all seen in Wanstead Park, though the latter two may be under-recorded because the species are less readily distinguished.

The list below is presented in Natural Order (as presented in E. Brittanica), damselflies first, then dragonflies

Name Family Species Status/Locality
Large Red Damselfly Coenagriidae Pyrrhosoma nymphula Capel Road garden on 3&4/05/2006; Wanstead Park 20/05/2012 - quite common. (F.A. Walker, 1897, Wanstead Park)
Blue-tailed Damselfly Coenagriidae Ishnura elegans COL, 11/08/2006; Wanstead Park, 20/06/2001: Wanstead Flats - common, 21/05/2014; SW 31/08/2004
Common Blue Damselfly Coenagriidae Enallagma cyathigerum Wanstead Park, 31/05/2000; Wanstead Flats, 27/06/2005 - common. Sewage Works, 26/06/2005; Leyton Flats, 12/07/2013 (F.A. Walker, 1897, Wanstead Park)
Azure Damselfly Coenagriidae Coenagrion puella Wanstead Park, 30/06/2001, common; Sewage Works, 22/06/2001; Capel Road garden, 20/05/2006
Red-eyed Damselfly Coenagriidae Erythromma najas Wanstead Park - quite common, 25/05/2002 (observed in Wanstead Park up to late 1940s); Leyton Flats, 13/07/2012
Small Red-eyed Damselfly Coenagriidae Erythromma viridulum Alexandra Lake, Wanstead Flats, 20/06/2007 - increasing; Wanstead Park, quite common; CoL, New Crem. Pond 01/07/2018
Willow Emerald Lestidae Lestes viridis Aldersbrook garden, 06/09/2015 (Gill James and Tim Harris); Wanstead Park, 15/10/2017 (Kathy Hartnett) ; Wanstead Park, 01/09/2018; Wanstead Flats 26/09/2018; Capel Road garden 12/08/2022
Banded Demoiselle Calopterygidae Calpoteryx splendens COL; Wanstead Park, 08/07/2008; Sewage Works, 02/06/2000; Capel Road garden 05/06/2017, 10/06/2017; Leyton Flats, 04/07/2012
Migrant Hawker Aeshnidae Aeshna mixta Wanstead Park, 27/09/2004; Sewage Works, 14/09/2012; Capel Road garden 28/08/2012; Wanstead Park, 01/09/2018
Southern Hawker Aeshnidae Aeshna cyanea Wanstead Park, near Bullet Hill, 20/07/2011; W. end Heronry Pond, 24/08/2011; WF Alex, 25/06/2012; Capel Road garden 19/07/2015 (F.A. Walker, 1897, Wanstead Park)
Brown Hawker Aeshnidae Aeshna grandis Wanstead Park, Ornamental Waters, 04/07/2010; Perch Pond, 19/07/2011 (F.A. Walker, 1897, Wanstead Park)
Emperor Aeshnidae Anax imperator Wanstead Park; Wanstead Flats; COL - quite common; Capel Road garden 05/06/2017
Broad-bodied Chaser Libellulidae Libellula depressa Wanstead Park, 31/05/2000; Wanstead Flats - common; Gilbrert's Slade, 12/06/2007; Leyton Flats, 04/07/2012; Capel Road garden, 27/05/2012 (F.A. Walker, 1897, Wanstead Park)
Four-spotted Chaser Libellulidae Libellula quadrimaculata Wanstead Park, by Heronry Pond on 03/07/2010 and 13/07/2013
Black-tailed Skimmer Libellulidae Orthetrum cancellatum Wanstead Park; Wanstead Flats - common
Common Darter Libellulidae Sympetrum striolatum Wanstead Park, 03/03/1998; Wanstead Flats; Sewage Works, 13/08/2000; COL cemetery - common. Capel Road garden, 03/09/2000; (F.A. Walker, 1897, Wanstead Park)
Ruddy Darter Libellulidae Sympetrum sanquineum Wanstead Park by OW on 22/08/2006; Leyton Flats, 08/08/2012, numbers by the smaller of the Hollow Ponds.
in addition...
Emerald Damselfly Lestidae Lestes sponsa Stephens 1835-7 and Walker 1897 reported this species from Wanstead Park