Scottish Wildlife Trust - Isle of Skye Group

Field Trip 9 August 2003

"Dragonflies at Loch Caol"

Loch Caol

This outing was led by Peter Elford who not only knew a great deal about dragonflies but had a net for catching them and a young assistant who was very skilled at wielding it.  As a result, most of us who went on the trip are much better informed about the variety of dragonflies to be found locally than we were before today.

Loch Caol, near Sligachan, is blessed with no less than 8 breeding species of dragonfly.  These are:

Common Hawker
Azure Hawker
Highland Darter
Black Darter
Emerald Damselfly
Large Red Damselfly
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly

The weather for the outing was dull and rather breezy.  Although the Cuillins were enveloped in thick glowering cloud, it remained dry where we were until late on when there was a slight drizzle.  Despite the far from ideal conditions for dragonflies, we managed to see four species from the above list, and one other.

The Common Blue Damselfly was extremely numerous.  Almost all the individuals we saw were males; apparently this is because they have to patrol their territories and hunt for the less brightly-coloured females who remain hidden in the vegetation.

We also found several Black Darters, and a few Emeralds and Blue-tails.  A Golden-ringed Dragonfly was also spotted.  This species does not breed in the loch but in the burns that feed into it.

Sympetrum danae
Female Black Darter
  Sympetrum danae
Male Black Darter


Lestes sponsa
Male Emerald Damselfly
  Cordulegaster boltonii
Female Golden-ringed Dragonfly


This may be a teneral male Black Darter as it does not have the yellow patches on the base of the wings that the female has.

The water level was low after the recent hot dry weather, making the water plants such as Pipewort look rather leggy.  The bog pools were dotted with the flowers of Lesser Bladderwort, an insect-eating plant which in many years doesn't flower at all.

Eriocaulon septangulare
  Utricularia minor
Lesser Bladderwort

Finally a couple of caterpillars which remain unidentified.  Anyone know what they are?


Photos are by Grant Jeffrey (top pic, female black darter, and black darter on heather) and Carl Farmer (the rest).  If anyone else has any photos from the trip, or reports of anything seen, we'd be delighted to add them to this page.

As it turned out, both of us concentrated on the less common species and didn't get any good pictures of the Common Blue, but here is one I happened to have from Loch Caol back in July (very chuffed because I correctly identified it back then!), together with a Bog Orchid from the same area also in July.

Enallagma cyathigerum
Male Common Blue Damselfly
  Hammarbya paludosa
Bog Orchid


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All pictures copyright Carl Farmer or Grant Jeffrey 2003