Dragonfly-Days
....for South Wales Dragonfly enthusiasts


Glamorgan Locations below        Monmouthshire Locations Here

I've tried to give a good mix of both nature reserves and local authority country parks throughout the area that this website covers, so whether you live in the Dragonfly-Days area or your a visitor passing through, there should be a site not too far from you. Below you will find some of the very best locations that South Wales has to offer the dragonfly enthusiast, so without further ado let us continue...
Kenfig National Nature Reserve

 
There's no doubting the importance of this reserve which is set on the very edge of our Dragonfly-Days area, not too far west of the popular holiday resort of Porthcawl, it's easily accessed from Junction 37 of the M4 motorway.
Kenfig Pool (shown on left) is a relatively large stretch of water with extensive reedbeds on all but the south-east shore, there are many sand dunes that cover a large part of the reserve, but it has to be mentioned here that this site is not for the less mobile visitor, the going can be rough.

Several rare vagrants have been recorded from the reserve and during recent visits I have been fortunate to see both Lesser Emperor and Red-veined Darter, the latter has been confirmed as actually breeding on the reserve, which goes to prove what can happen when the habitat is correctly managed. Yellow-winged Darter is another rare vagrant that enjoys visiting Kenfig.
Unfortunately Bridgend County Borough Council have closed the excellent visitor centre as a cost-cutting exercise. However, Dave Carrington the Reserve Warden can still be contacted on 07817 178636. The reserve has recorded a very impressive 22 species of dragonfly - (with Red-eyed Damselfly first recorded here in June 2016) - this undoubtedly makes it one of the regions premier dragonfly locations and I heartily recommend a visit during the peak summer months.
The small bay you see on the photograph to the right was the haunt of a male Lesser Emperor during a July visit I made to Kenfig in 2011, I believe it would prove far better to call it by it's Irish name the Yellow-ringed Dragonfly then one of it's most prominent distinguishing features might perhaps help overcome any ID confusion with its slightly larger relative the Emperor Dragonfly.

Both insects patrolled the bay and often clashed and the sound of their wings rustled on the summer air as neither was prepared to concede good hunting ground (or should that be water?). I just wish we had better summer weather and more frequent visits from these fine insects.
Beautiful Demoiselle
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly
Common Darter
Emerald Damselfly
Red-eyed Damselfly (New)
Lesser Emperor*
Ruddy Darter
Large Red Damselfly
Hairy Dragonfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Red-veined Darter**
Azure Damselfly
Common Hawker
Four-spotted Chaser
Yellow-winged Darter**
Variable Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Broad-bodied Chaser
*Denotes Rare Vagrant 
Common Blue Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Black-tailed Skimmer
**Scarce or Rare Migrant
Please Note; the current British species status as denoted by the use of an asterisk* on any species list has been taken from the 2014 third edition of Britain's Dragonflies (A Field Guide to the damselflies and dragonflies of Britian and Ireland). See the books page for further details of this title.

Parc Slip Nature Park - Tondu, near Bridgend

Reclaimed from a coal mining site, Parc Slip is home to the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. Accessed from the M4 motorway by taking Junction 36, then take the B4281 towards Aberkenfig and follow the brown tourist signs to Parc Slip Nature Park. You can get further information here or from the Trust office by telephoning  01650 724100
There are several large ponds and a similar number of small lakes dotted around the park, as well as a small 'canal' fed by the Nant-y-Gedd stream, all support a good variety of dragonfly species and many are alongside or near footpaths for generally good access for people of all levels of mobility.

Check out the parks Wetland Walk for a very interesting
Dragonfly-Day. The network of streams that intersect the park provide a wonderful range of habitat, and do keep your eyes open for Emerald Damselfly, surprisingly the insect has not been recorded from Parc Slip since 1991 for some reason.
Alongside Parc Slip Nature Park is another area of interest to dragonfly seekers called Park Pond, set amid a small area of mature woodland it has an old millpond, it might prove quite interesting to see what species this pond now supports. It once held a colony of Emerald Damselfly, sadly, they were lost after a pond cleaning disaster in 1991!
A mightly impressive twenty three species of dragonfly and damselfly have been recorded from Parc Slip by a man with well over twenty years of Odonata recording from the park, Mr Nigel Ajax Lewis.

Although I have spent several delightful visits at the park over recent years my knowledge of Parc Slip's dragonfly species was not really sufficient to provide a definitive list, and so I'm indebted to Nigel for so kindly providing the data for the species list which I reproduce below.

Without such dedicated and unselfishly shared record details our knowledge would be so much poorer.
Beautiful Demoiselle
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly
Black Darter
Emerald Damselfly
Scarce Blue-tailed Damsel
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Common Darter
Large Red Damselfly
Hairy Dragonfly
Four-spotted Chaser
Ruddy Darter
Azure Damselfly
Common Hawker
Broad-bodied Chaser
Red-veined Darter**
Variable Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Black-tailed Skimmer
Yellow-winged Darter**
Common Blue Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Keeled Skimmer
 

Cosmeston Lakes Country Park - Penarth.

Created on a former landfill site that previously had been a limestone quarry, when the quarrying ceased the area was converted to a country park that has become a very popular destination for the people of the Penarth area. The lakes are situated just outside Penarth on the Lavernock road. Further details of the park are available by contacting the office on 029 2070 1678.
Cosmeston Lakes Boardwalk
My thanks to Mick Lobb for allowing use of the photograph via the Creative
Commons License agreement. Copyright remains his.
The lakes are fed by underground springs and now cover approximately 12 of the 100 hectares that the landscaped area of the park covers. Most of the lakes (east and west) are reed fringed and the margins provide ideal shelter and breeding habitat for many of the resident species.

Since Cosmeston Park was opened in 1978 almost half of it has been designated with SSSI status (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

The two lakes are traversed by a boardwalk that makes very comfortable wheelchair access, part of this boardwalk is shown on the photograph.

Cosmeston's coastal location provides a natural attraction for many migrant species arriving from far flung places, add to that its close proximity to the most densely populated part of South Wales and you can understand why visitors get to see and record so many special species.
Twenty four species have been recorded from Cosmeston Lakes and the general area, I must thank Dave Slade and his colleagues at the South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre (SEWBReC) for kindly providing me with the original species data (2008). The current list has since been revised and updated to include the latest records.
Beautiful Demoiselle
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly
Black-tailed Skimmer
Banded Demoiselle
Scarce Blue-tailed Damsel
Vagrant Emperor*
Keeled Skimmer
Emerald Damselfly
Hairy Dragonfly
Lesser Emperor*
Black Darter
Large Red Damselfly
Common Hawker
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Common Darter
Azure Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Four-Spotted Chaser
Ruddy Darter
Common Blue Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Broad-bodied Chaser
Red-veined Darter**
With twenty four species recorded Cosmeston Lakes Country Park has the distinction of being the location with the greatest number of different damselfly and dragonfly species recorded than any other location in the South Wales area. This is testimony to the dedicated fieldwork and record keeping of the many staff and enthusiast recorders that has made this information possible. We must also pay tribute to the good habitat management provided at the park.

Dare Valley Country Park - Aberdare

Well known for its Peregrine Falcon eyrie at 'The Darren' rockface that's well protected by video cameras that are relayed for public viewing in the popular visitor centre by the RSPB. It was here in 1972 that the first country park in England and Wales was created from land formerly ravaged by the coal mining industry. Within a mile of Aberdare town centre the park is a super place to spend a leisurely Dragonfly-Day. From Aberdare town centre take the A4233 (signposted Maerdy) then take the 4th turning left into Highland Place, continue ahead until you come to the park visitor centre, alternatively you can contact the park here or by telephoning  01685 874672 for further details.
The park has two lakes and a small feeder reservoir, the lakes are fed by the Afon Dar a small river that drains the peat moorlands high above the park.

Owing to the acidic nature of the water lots of limestone was used in the channels that connect the lakes to help neutralise the pH.

You will find a network of paths in and around the park that link the lakes and the adjacent rhos pasture, this rather important wet grassland habitat proves highly beneficial to many of the parks damselfly species.
The lower lake has a waterfall that is fed by the limestone channel, several types of water plant are evident on the lake making it probably less acidic than the top lake and therefore more suitable for surface loving plants, these plants provide yet another good environment for many of the parks odonata.
It is more than probable that Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly is present on the moorland pools above the park.

Migrant Hawker and Black-tailed Skimmer are two other species that are more than likely to have occurred, both have been recorded from similar habitat within range of the Dare Valley Country Park.

I'm sure local naturalists such as Mark Evans and Martin Bevan will add these insects to the list of species that have been recorded from this interesting area in the near future.
I'm indebted to Richard Wistow of Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council for providing the following list of 15 species that have been positively recorded from Dare Valley Country Park. 
Beautiful Demoiselle
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Four-spotted Chaser
Emerald Damselfly
Common Hawker
Broad-bodied Chaser
Large Red Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Keeled Skimmer
Azure Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly
Black Darter
Common Blue Damselfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Common Darter

Parc Penallta - near Ystrad Mynach.

Since the demise of the coal mining industry in the south Wales valleys many country parks have been created on sites that were formerly collieries, now in place of coaldust infested countryside, and rivers and streams polluted as a result of this destructive industry, there are green wildlife environments that have man made pools and small lakes that support a myriad of damselfly and dragonfly species. Parc Penallta is a very good example of such change.
Parc Penallta Boardwalk Pond
Created on the coal waste tip site of the former Penallta Colliery in the Rhymney Valley this park has many waters. Since I first started keeping records from the park I have recorded eighteen species, with three new species being added during the last three years; Beautiful Demoiselle, Common Hawker and Black Darter.

Common Hawker (larvae) was found late 2012 by Chris Lawrence a research student from the University of Glamorgan who used
Dragonfly-Days as a research resource - I'm pleased to say Chris passed his exams!

Its nice to know that this resource is of some practical help to our new generation of natural sciences students.
I'm absolutely appalled at the decision by Caerphilly County Borough Council to charge people to park in all of the boroughs country parks, this is no more than an extra TAX on our use of our country parks which by the way we already pay for via our council tax...how on earth have they got away with it...shame on any of the grossly over paid councillor's who voted for this public disgrace!!!
The Railway Pond Parc Penallta
 
Reed fringed ponds such as the one seen on the left is just perfect habitat for the larger hawkers such as the impressive Emperor Dragonfly, Southern Hawker and in the later summer months the Migrant Hawker.

It's banks are home to damselfly species such as Large Red, Common Blue, Azure and Blue-tailed.

You will find Common Darter, Four-spotted Chaser and Broad-bodied Chaser on their favourite perches here posing nicely and simply begging to have their photographs taken!!!
Not too far from the new Caerphilly County Borough Council offices on the Ystrad Mynach to Nelson road are two relatively new lakes that were created for the fishing fraternity, I have watched these lakes slowly mature into rather nice habitat, I'm always greeted by Emperor Dragonfly and Black-tailed Skimmer during June and July, its always a pleasure to see them in such healthy numbers.
On the higher ground near the main car park is the largest man made 'coal waste' sculpture in Europe. The figure of a pit pony named Sultan has been created and the hoofprints it leaves behind have very imaginatively been turned into small ponds that now support many of the parcs 18 recorded damselfly and dragonfly species.

The hoofprint ponds are a perfect introduction to pond dipping in the outdoors classroom environment that children thrive in, this is just the place to start our next generation of naturalists.

The 18 species recorded from Parc Penallta are as follows:-
Beautiful Demoiselle
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly
Keeled Skimmer
Emerald Damselfly
Hairy Dragonfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Black Darter*
Large Red Damselfly
Common Hawker
Four-spotted Chaser
Common Darter
Azure Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Broad-bodied Chaser
* Irregular site visitor
Common Blue Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Black-tailed Skimmer
 

Parc Cwm Darran (Near Deri)  &  Gelligaer and Merthyr Common

Two miles north of Bargoed just outside the former mining village of Deri lies the rather picturesque Darran Valley and here is where the former Ogilvie & Groesfaen Colliery sites have been reclaimed for nature as Parc Cwm Darran. Easily reached from the Heads of the Valley's road, the parc has camping and caravaning facilities, its the ideal location for those wanting to explore the Dragonfly-Days area or as a base for visiting the wonderful Brecon Beacons National Park which are on Parc Cwm Darran's doorstep...but visitors please be aware of the disgraceful car parking charges recently introduced - which is yet another form of TAX !!!
Parc Cwm Darran Lake
Several different size ponds and an impressive lake are among the many different waters that go to make up Parc Cwm Darran. While on the surrounding Gelligaer and Merthyr Commons there are many acidic bog pools and old feeder ponds originally created for the mining industry that once reigned supreme in the area.

The bog pools and their associated seepages are host to species such as the Common Hawker, Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly, Emerald Damselfly and Black Darter among others.
Parc Cwm Darran has a visitor centre (Tel: 01443 875557) that's open during the summer months from April through to September. There's a small cafe that offers the visitor light refreshments. There are a very good network of paths with many suitable for wheelchair users or the less mobile.
Pictured to the right is a typical upland bog pool on Gelligaer Common and was still the haunt of Common Hawker even after the first ground frosts in mid-October. Many such ponds are kept clear of rushes and course grasses throughout the year by the Welsh mountain ponies and the equally hardy Welsh mountain sheep, this can mean that the harder to find species such as the Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly often have the type of conditions they prefer, its an animal service to the insects, natural co-operation.

Gelligaer and Merthyr Common is probably the largest common in South Wales.
I've recorded 18 species from Parc Cwm Darran and it's surrounding environs of Gelligaer and Merthyr Common, with the exception of Ruddy Darter all species are confirmed as breeding, the complete list is presented below.
Beautiful Demoiselle
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly
Black Darter
Emerald Damselfly
Scarce Blue-tailed Damsel
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Common Darter
Large Red Damselfly
Common Hawker
Four-spotted Chaser
Ruddy Darter*
Azure Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Broad-bodied Chaser
 
Common Blue Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Keeled Skimmer
 
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                     Monmouthshire Locations Page
View over Kenfig Pool towards Port Talbot
Small Bay on Kenfig Pool
Parc Slip Nature Reserve
Parc Slip Pond
Dare Valley Country Park
Small Lake at Dare Valley Country Park
Bog Pool on Gelligaer & Merthyr Common

Parc Penallta fishing lake
Glamorgan Bird Club Logo
A massive area of moorland at the northern end of Merthyr Common has been destroyed by surface opencast coal mining, the powers that be that allowed this wanton environmental vandalism to take place are devoid of a solitary ounce of intelligence, the crater excavated has been reported as the largest of its type in Europe and the waste spoil created has to be seen to be believed and now Miller Argent want to continue further with this madness by surface opencast mining a massive swathe of land that impinges on the three upper Rhymney Valley towns/villages of Rhymney, Pontlottyn and Fochriw - click on the Nant Llesg map below (provided by Miller Argent) to percieve some sense of scale to this proposed insanity...478 hectares!!!

I cannot overstate the massive objections to this plan from most of the wildlife welfare and environmental societies and also the countless residents that this proposed scheme would affect for many years to come...its yet another proposed
'Rape of the Fair Country' to a part of the UK that has been exploited and abused for its mineral wealth for hundreds of years and if this is allowed by Caerphilly County Borough Council then what about the remainder of the wonderful Merthyr and Gelligaer Common...Great news... on the 5th of August (2015) the CCBC Planning Committee voted overwhelmingly to REJECT the plans, every one of our councillors who stood firm against Miller Argents threats to sue if they didn't get their own way deserve our utmost praise. Miller Argent are considering an appeal, they seem unable to grasp the fact that this huge opencast plan is...totally unacceptable.
Map of Nant Llesg Opencast Area
*Ruddy Darter had an exceptionally good year in 2014 and the species was recorded from the parc for the first time.
Complete list of Dragonfly and Damselfly species recorded in Glamorgan.
Beautiful Demoiselle
Variable Damselfly
Brown Hawker
Keeled Skimmer
Banded Demoiselle
Common Blue Damselfly
Emperor Dragonfly
Black Darter
Common Winter Damsel***
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Lesser Emperor*
Common Darter
Emerald Damselfly
Scarce Blue-tailed Damsel
Vagrant Emperor*
Ruddy Darter
Large Red Damselfly
Red-eyed Damselfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Red-veined Darter**
Small Red Damselfly
Hairy Dragonfly
Downy Emerald
Yellow-winged Darter**
White-legged Damselfly
Common Hawker
Four-spotted Chaser
 
Southern Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Broad-bodied Chaser
 
Azure Damselfly
Southern Hawker
Black-tailed Skimmer
 
33 Species comprise the latest Glamorgan (Watsonian Vice County 41) list as at January 2016.
*Denotes Rare Vagrant   ** Denotes Scarce or Rare Migrant   *** Rare Vagrant (Only British Record).
The only British mainland record for Winter Damselfly is from Tonna, near Neath in West Glamorgan in 2008 when a female was discovered inside a house! As a matter of interest the Neath Canal is also found nearby, yet it must remain a matter of conjecture of how it actually got there.

The species is found throughout Europe - excepting Scandanavia - and has been recorded from the Channel Isles, whether this species is ready to try things out in climate changing UK remains to be seen.

Another outstanding example of what can turn up - anywhere and at anytime.

The famous Winter Damsefly!

I must extend my thanks to fellow naturalist Barry Stewart for bringing this incredible record to my attention at the time it was discovered, he was also kind enough to provide me with the rare image of the insect you see above.