Step 1: Get to know your Dragonflies & Damselflies
Guidance on how to identify Irish dragonfly and damselfly species is available in our Dragonflies & Damselflies section of this site. Do you have one of our handy pocket guides? If not, you can buy them from our online shop. We also offer workshops where we teach dragonfly survey and identification skills. To see if a workshop is coming to a place near you, please see the current list of workshops in our News & Events section.
Step 2: Select your Survey Site
You are free to survey any freshwater body, whether it be a lake, reservoir, stream, river, canal, bog, fen or garden pond! Be realistic about what you can cover in the time available. Please ensure that the water body is safe to access and, where the water body is on private land, please seek permission from the landowner before conducting the survey.
Step 3: Survey Timing
For the Dragonfly Recorder surveys we ask that you complete a minimum of two surveys at each site. The first survey must be conducted in May or June and the second survey must be completed between July and early September.
Step 4: Safety First!
As with any wildlife survey, it pays to take account of any risks or hazards at you proposed survey site. As you will be surveying near water, you should be mindful of the risks of tripping or falling into the water. This survey does not require you to get your feet wet or enter the water under any circumstances. Only approach the waters edge if it is safe to do so, and consider wearing a life jacket or buoyancy aid if surveying near deep water.
If possible conduct the survey with at least one other person and be aware of the risks of lone surveying. Whether surveying alone or as a team, always inform someone as to where you are going and what time you expect to be back, and bring a fully charged mobile phone with you.
Wear appropriate footwear and clothing for the conditions. Be mindful of the risk of sunburn and use appropriate sunscreen and/or protective clothing and head wear.
A sample list of risks and example precautions is included at the back of the survey form, these are by no means exhaustive and you should always use your own best judgement when it come to safe surveying conditions.
Step 5: Check the Weather
Dragonflies and damselflies are most active in warm, dry, sunny, still weather. Ideally the temperature should be 17oC or more with less than 60% cloud cover, however surveys in 15oC or more with less than 60% cloud cover are acceptable. Surveys should not be conducted in temperatures exceeding 30oC (we wish!!). The weather should be dry throughout the survey. Wind speed should not exceed force 4 (the point at which small branches begin to sway).
Step 6: Time to Survey!
As dragonflies and damselflies can take some time to warm up after a cold night, surveys should be conducted between 10AM and 4PM. In temperatures above 22oC, surveys can be conducted between 9:30AM and 4:30PM.
Step 7: Survey Method
Download and print out the Dragonfly Recorder survey form. On arriving at the site, or before setting off, please fill in the first section of the survey form with your details and the site location.
Use the most appropriate survey method for your site. If it is a small waterbody a single spot-count may suffice. If its is a larger area, walk a transect along the water’s edge, or if this is not feasible, conduct several spot counts at accessible points around the edge of the waterbody – ensuring that you do not double count animals!
Spend at least 30mins surveying each site, but the length of time you spend recording is entirely up to you – but again you should ensure that you do not double count individuals. Please note the start and end time of your survey and estimate the distance covered. You should not cover a distance in excess of 500m in any one survey.
Focus your search within 2m of the water’s edge (if safe to do so) and scan an area 5m over the water.
Record all dragonflies and damselflies seen during your survey and an estimate of their numbers using the form provided. To simplify counts, count estimate codes are provided. Where large numbers of animals are flying with mixed species, net a sample (e.g. 10%) to determine the proportion of species present, bearing in mind that some species may be easier to net than others.
Please complete the habitat survey and take photos of the survey site and any impacts and invasive species you find.
Step 8: Data Submission
When your survey is completed, please upload your results via our online data submission form. Site and impact photos can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org – please remember to state the date and location of the survey. Interesting observations or photos can be shared via the Dragonfly Ireland Facebook page – we cannot accept any records or survey data via our Facebook page.