Boyeria cretensis - Cretan Spectre

Adult male Kiliaris River 27.8.2006

Adult male Kiliaris River 27.8.2006

Photo of Juvenile male kindly provided by and Frank Bos

Female Cretan Spectre egg laying around 5pm 10/8/2006 Kiliaris River, Crete.
She was laying eggs in the damp bark above the waterline. First on the west bank then the east bank. See photo above.

Female egg laying 10.08.2006

Area of the Kiliaris River where we observed and photographed.

East bank, where females were photographed egg laying.

Quotes from: Dijkstra & Lewington, Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe by British Wildlife Publishing, June 2006.

"Confined to Crete where scarce and difficult to observe, only a fraction of the streams on the island are permanent and thus suitable. The species is seriously threatened by impoundment, piping and pollution of streams"

"Seems to be scarce and has been seen by only by a handful of observers"

Therefore I thought it important to record all my observation notes below:

29th July 2006: We decided to visit the river pond area, a five minute drive from home, and try for some better photographs of Small Red Damsel, which we achieved. On the way back to the car we decided to take a look at the river from a cool sandbank. Banded Demoiselles were present and then a larger dragonfly joined them before flying on along the shady bank inspecting tree roots and rock crevices on its way, just the behaviour of Boyeria cretensis - Cretan Spectre, the third and undoubtedly the most interesting of the Cretan endemic dragonflies! and just down the road from our base.

Between 2pm and 2.30pm we saw it on six patrols. It came very close on a couple of occasions, but even so it was very difficult to see any details and we really only saw its green eyes and pale rear area. The new field guide says its very similar western relative has a military camouflage appearance and I think this explains why it is so hard to really see this species, and why it has only been seen by a handful of observers. I was really chuffed especially as we also got a photograph, poor as it might be. See below:

30th: Yesterday had proved how difficult it would be to photograph this species, which seemed to be in constant motion and in the shade. I decided I would try flash, which would however limit me to one photo at a time, not continuous which is possible without flash. We arrived and set up camp on the sandbank at 1pm with the first sighting at 1.30pm. Then three more sightings the last at 2.15pm with no further sightings until 3.15. then another 3 sightings with the last at 4pm just before we left. This individual was perhaps the same individual patrolling its territory and behaved as yesterday flying along the shady banks searching under roots and into rock crevices. Today it also flew much higher into the trees a couple of times, presumably hunting for food.

One sighting was different the individual in question staying closer to the waterline and perhaps dipped tail into water (egg laying) and also appeared a slightly different colour, but so difficult to see could not be certain except for the flying closer to waterline, just possibly a female? We took lots of photos as yesterday with again only one fairly poor result.

8th August 2006: Looked for Cretan Spectre Dragonfly further south along the river but no definite sighting.

10th: We arrived at the sandbank area 4.45pm. At 4.55 to 5.05  managed to photograph female Cretan Spectre egg laying see photo below. She was laying eggs in the damp bark above the waterline. First on one bank then the other. I had to paddle in bare feet in the river to get this flash photograph! (I was restrained by the wife from going in wearing sandals) From 5.10 to 6pm six visits to the area by male Cretan Spectre/s. (see photo above)

12th: On the way from the river pond area to the sandbank we spotted an early Kingfisher perched on bamboo. At the Sandbank area a pair of Red-rumped Swallows were feeding.

From the Sandbank area from 4.50pm: at approx 4.55 a patrolling, presumably male, Cretan Spectre had an interaction with a male Banded Demoiselle. We had seen this before, but this time the Spectre grabbed the Banded and flew up into the trees with it, presumably to eat it. We unfortunately lost sight of them. The next sighting was at 5.20. Then at 5.55 there was an interaction between what was probably two male Spectres. They flew around each other apparently fairly peacefully before heading off in different directions along the river. We left shortly after.

16th: Visit to river sandbank to see Cretan Spectre. Sighting at 5pm, 5.15 and from 5.30 another six sightings before we left at 6pm because of too much attention from mosquitoes. Visit spoilt to some extent by two dead Buzzards dumped in the river perhaps after having been shot?

27th: 2.30pm. At the river sandbank I was lucky to see a Cretan Spectre settle in the trees above the opposite bank. I pinpointed its position through my binoculars, so off with my shoes again and over to the opposite bank. Although in part shade and still at some distance I was very pleased to get photos of a male. (see photos above) Also a female egg laying, three, even four individuals in area.

2nd September 2006: Trip to Kiliaris River, the sandbank area, to try to record Cretan Spectre Dragonfly for September. We waited from 2pm. to 2.45pm. for a sighting. One of the species, presumably a male, flew by, searching the riverbank. This was the last sighting of year, although we paid later visits to area.

Female egg laying 27.8.2006

Length: 69-71mm
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