Day of the Dragon

To: Steve Read <>, "<>" <>
Subject: Day of the Dragon
From: David Rees <>
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2016 21:53:04 +0000

A close relation of the Australian Hobby is the Eurasian Hobby - a similar but more colourful bird, esp. the males.  They too are classic dragonfly hunters and I have watched them many times hunt dragonflies over bogs in the south of England. They also nail swallows and martins.


On Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 8:34 AM, Steve Read <> wrote:

Hi all – as I think I’ve mentioned before on the chatline, while living in Ballarat I used to regularly watch the local hobby hawking for dragonflies at dusk over Lake Wendouree, then disassembling and eating them while flying.





From: Harvey Perkins [
Sent: Thursday, 22 December 2016 8:22 AM
To: David Rees <>
Cc: Geoffrey Dabb <>; Canberra Birds <m("","canberrabirds");" target="_blank">>
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Day of the Dragon


Geoff, David - some interesting observations. In all the time I've spent surveying dragonflies I've rarely seen much in the way of predation. I've seen Bee-eaters that had caught them, but that is the only bird I've seen with a captured dragonfly. On Monday this week I witnessed an asilid (robber fly) capture and begin to eat a male Red & Blue Damselfly (which was longer than it was). Otherwise I've seen many damselflies caught in spiders' webs (mainly Tetragnathidae - long-jawed spiders).


I think the aerial abilities of dragonflies, despite the hovering tendency of some species, including the Tau Emerald, would normally give them the advantage over most birds. They often have scuffles in the air, mostly intra-specific but also inter-specific, which might distract them and make them more vulnerable; and females might also be more vulnerable when depositing eggs. But by and large it seems to me that predation by birds is fairly uncommon. More than happy to be given further evidence to the contrary!




On 21 December 2016 at 15:36, David Rees <> wrote:



I was also there at the time, it appeared to me that it was an individual bird doing this, though given how good it was it might catch on.


I have updated my Australian reed warbler footage to include footage of the bird taking the wings of a dragonfly before eating it.  I only had a secondary camera with me, which would not match the clarity obtained by Geoffrey with his impressive 'artillery piece'.


see for the action - second half of film, sound swapped out and replaced to remove camera noises etc.







On Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 8:25 AM, Harvey Perkins <> wrote:

Great shots, Geoff. The dragonfly is a Tau Emerald Hemicordulia tau. Was this all the one individual?




On 20 December 2016 at 15:44, Geoffrey Dabb <> wrote:

I spent an hour yesterday and this morning waiting for a Little Bittern, without any serious expectation of seeing one. Too few bitterns, too much typha.  However there were certainly two different birds calling yesterday.  From the hide this morning one could see at least 5 dragonflies being despatched by busy RWs.  The D-flies seem to be all the one species. I can confirm the RWs can snatch them from the air.  That motionless hovering might be clever, but is not necessarily advantageous from a natural selection viewpoint.  Catching the insects took less time than removing the wings.





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