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The Aeshnidae are one of the five families of dragonflies to be found in Britain, and the family is made up of twelve Emperors and Hawkers. In the past week I have been privileged to see three members of the family during my local walks.

The Southern hawker (Aeshna cyanea) (above left) is relatively common in Wales. In Aderyn, the national biodiversity recording database, there are 3312 records of Southern Hawker sightings and these are spread across 225 of the 275 10-kilometre grid squares that divide up Wales.

If the recorded numbers are anything to go by, the Migrant hawker (Aeshna mixta) (above right) is half as common as the Southern, with 1662 records in 143 grid squares, and its coverage across Wales is more spasmodic. This was only my second sighting of this slightly smaller Hawker but then I have only been living in Wales two years so my personal statistics aren’t really relevant.

170809 Emperor

This last creature is the most recorded of the Aeshnidae, with 4098 records in 221 of Wales’s grid squares, but, rather than reflecting how common it is, that may be because it’s one of the easiest dragonflies to identify because it’s the biggest. This is the Emperor (Anax imperator). I often get buzzed by these stunning creatures hawking over fields of wildflowers when I’m out walking – and they sound like a small helicopter approaching! – but I rarely get lucky enough to see them perched so I was particularly chuffed to get this photo.

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