Posted: 29 August 2013
Today was another warm and sunny day and once more the dragonflies were patrolling the shallow area of the lake immediately behind the house. I'd noticed some rather red dragonflies over the last week or so and this time I managed to catch one that landed on the edge of the decking.
Investigation on the usual web sites later left me unsure about which type it was. The candidates were the Common or Ruddy Darter. I posted the image on the iSpot web site and got a detailed response back confirming that it was the Common Darter.
I hung around taking a few more photographs, this time of a Dragonfly that, as it flew by, sometimes appeared to be green and other times blue. Back in the house this evening and looking at the various web sites that help me out, I concluded that what I had been taking pictures of were Southern Hawkers.
Generally, the most reliable way to distinguish Common Darters from Ruddy Darter (both sexes) is by the legs - Ruddy Darters have all black legs whereas Common Darters legs have a light stripe running down them. Unfortunately, this picture doesn't show the legs clearly enough.
The extent of the black around the frons (front of the face) is also diagnostic but, again, that can't be seen here.
The Common Darter male's colouration is often more of an orangey-red than the blood red of the Ruddy Darter male. The male Ruddy Darter's abdomen is also noticeably clubbed towards the anal appendages. Your specimen looks a little orange and does not appear clubbed, so I think that Common Darter is correct.