Top of main content

Rare dragonfly finds a mate at Crossness Nature Reserve

Monday 6th September 2021 14:38

Two lesser emperor dragonflies located above a pond

The two Lesser Emperor Dragonfly (Credit Bernie Weight)

A rare dragonfly at Thames Water’s Crossness Nature Reserve, has attracted the attention of conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts, after being spotted with a female friend.

The rare Lesser Emperor Dragonfly has been recorded at the nature reserve in South-East London for the last three years, however for the first time a pair have been spotted mating at the site.

Two members of the Friends of Crossness Nature Reserve membership scheme discovered the dragonflies while out photographing the wide variety of animals and plants that can be found at the wildlife haven, including over 200 species of bird, and Britain’s fastest declining mammal, the water vole.

The recent sighting is important for UK dragonfly conservation as the species is a rare UK breeder, and it provides photographic evidence of the insects attempting to breed in the area. The special record has been submitted to both the London and Kent county recorders of the British Dragonfly Society.

Bernie Weight, who photographed the dragonflies, said: “I’ve been visiting the reserve for a number of years now as it’s a great place to view wildlife and spend time away from the bustling city. Being able to find and photograph the Lesser Emperor Dragonfly really shows Crossness is an important habitat where animals and insects can thrive. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy nature, I’d recommend Crossness!”

Karen Sutton, Crossness Nature Reserve manager, said: “This is a fantastic find and shows how important the reserve is for conserving wildlife and for the other rare species that call it home. Not everyone knows about our fantastic nature reserves and wetlands in London, that are open to the public throughout the year.

“They really offer something for everyone from fishing to wildlife spotting and nature walks. Last year showed us how important access to green spaces and nature is for people’s physical and mental wellbeing. Crossness is just the place for our customers to Live Wild and enjoy a great day out.”

The Lesser Emperor Dragonfly is smaller and is less colourful than the more common Emperor Dragonfly.

Last month Thames Water launched its ‘Live Wild’ campaign to encourage customers to visit its public access wetlands, reservoirs, and nature reserves, such as Crossness. The campaign highlights the great days out on customers' doorsteps and the wellbeing benefits green outdoor spaces and wildlife bring to communities.

Located in the London Borough of Bexley, Crossness Nature Reserve offers the last remaining areas of grazing marshland within the Greater London area.

It hosts an impressive variety of rare species including water voles and England’s rarest bee, the shrill carder bee. Viewing screens overlooking the wet meadow, deep water lagoons and horse-grazed grasslands offer visitors the chance to watch barn owls, kestrels, and buzzards.

The reserve regularly hosts a wide range of events and community open days and runs the Crossness membership scheme. Reserve members can access the site’s protected wildlife area, which has a two-storey bird hide.