Dragon hunting: River Clubtail

Now I’m stuck in the Netherlands due to the corona-crisis, I finally have time to do something I had in mind for a while already. When I’m not working with Polar Bears or penguins, I often go out looking for dragonflies. Over the years I have seen 59 species of dragonfly and damselfly in the Netherlands and most of the species I hadn’t seen, can only be seen in the southern parts of the Netherlands in summer. A time that I usually are on a ship, but now I had the time to go and look for them. So the past week, I spent touring through the Netherlands, visiting some very special places to find the 8 missing species on my list. In total, 71 species of dragonfly have been seen in the Netherlands, but the last 4 are either carefully kept secret (because they live in a very vulnerable ecosystem) or haven’t been seen in many years, so those are not an option for me.

River Clubtail – Rivierrombout – Gomphus flavipes

Yesterday our trip ended near the river IJssel, where we found species number 8: the River Clubtail. With careful planning and a bit of luck, we managed to find all species on my list! It was a very special week, with many interesting species of dragonfly (and one damselfly), but also with some really special habitats. During this short series, I’ll cover some of these species and habitats.

River Clubtail habitat – large rivers

As the name already says, the River Clubtail has a preference for large rivers. It is one of the few species of dragonfly where the larve live in those rivers. When the larvae are ready, they crawl out of the water on the sandy river banks, where the dragonfly emerges. In the Netherlands we have several large rivers that are suitable habitat for this species, but, most likely due to the bad water quality, the species was extinct for nearly a century. Until the end of the previous century, when an excuvia was found. Since then, the species has recolonised most of the large rivers in the Netherlands.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

One comment

  • What an extraordinary dragonfly this is. Fantastic photos, Arjen. Wonderful that you were able to find all the species on your list, and very interesting background on habitat, species, and your dragonfly adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

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