Dragonfly Ireland – Newsletter # 2

Welcome to the Spring 2020 newsletter of Dragonfly Ireland 2019 – 2024, a joint project of the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, Northern Ireland.

Dragonfly Ireland 2019 – 2024 is an all-Ireland survey funded by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of a 3-year Citizen Science Project focused on aquatic species and their use as indicators of climate change and water quality

With the first year of the survey behind us, and all of the 2019 records we received validated, we are delighted with the huge support the project has received. 2019 saw a 97% increase in the number of dragonfly and damselfly records uploaded to the National Biodiversity Data Centre compared to 2018. So we would like to say a GREAT BIG THANK YOU! to all those who took the time and effort to submit their records of dragonflies and damselflies in the past year, we could not do this project without your dedication and support.

Of course  we are not going to stop there and we hope to receive even more records in 2020! Of course with Covid19 things are different, but we are greatly encouraged to see that people are already submiting records from their gardens and during exercise within 5km of home. We ask you to please continue to submit your records but at all times adhere to the government guidelines on travel and social distancing. You can find government guidance on travel and distancing for Ireland at this link and for Northern Ireland at this link.

So how did we do in 2019?

As of 31st December 2019 the National Biodiversity Data Centre had received 2,856 Dragonfly & Damselfly records. After validating the records they were combined with the Northern Ireland records from our colleagues at CEDaR, giving a grand total of 3,788 records received across the island of Ireland.

Data submitted to the National Biodiversity Data Centre in 2019 is now available online at Biodiversity Maps for you to explore.

We are delighted with the extent of coverage in year one and records were received for 499 out of a possible 1,000 10 km sq gridsquares.

Records of 26 dragonfly and damselfly species were received in 2019. Common Darter was the most frequently recorded dragonfly species with 554 records. This was followed by four-spotted chaser (286 records), brown hawker (277 records) and emperor dragonfly (254 records). The most frequently recorded damselfly species was the large red damselfly, with 330 records, followed by common blue damselfly (322 records) and blue-tailed damselfly (292 records).

Validated dragonfly and damselfly records received by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and CEDaR by species from January to December 2019

445 individual surveyors submitted records to the National Biodiversity Data Centre for Dragonfly Ireland between 1 January and 31 December 2019. 28 surveyors were responsible for 50% of the records submitted, showing what a large contribution our most active recorders make. 51% of recorders submitted a single dragonfly or damselfly record and your contributions are greatly appreciated. We do hope that you found the process of contributing to our Citizen Science project rewarding and are encouraged to try your hand at recording dragonflies and damselflies again this year.

Records were received from 32 counties, with Co. Kildare coming out on top with a total of 494 records, followed by Co. Armagh (287 records) and Co. Cork (272 records).

Validated dragonfly and damselfly records received by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and CEDaR per county January – December 2019

Can we use your pics?

Some of the photos submitted with records and via social media are stunning! We are constantly in need of new images of all species for use in our social media and media awareness campaigns. If you have good high resolution Dragonfly or Damselfly photos that you would be willing to let us use as part of the Dragonfly Ireland project, please email them to us here at DragonflyIreland@biodiversityireland.ie

I’m afraid we can’t pay for use of photos – but photos will be duly credited where used.

Just a sample of some of the fantastic dragonfly and damselfly shots we received from recorders in 2019 – clockwise from bottom left: Four-spotted Chaser by Rachel McKenna; Downy Emerald by Donna Rainey; Large Red Damselfly by Gerry Fitzmaurice and Vagrant Emperor by John Deasy.

Data validation

When we receive your records they are immediately mapped on our Citizen Science Portal, however these are unvalidated records. Unvalidated records may contain errors due to incorrectly identified species, incorrect coordinates and other data input errors. To ensure a clean data set for our Biodiversity Mapping System (which is the data we use for reporting to government and preparing other reports and data outputs) we first validate the records we receive.

Data validation process for the Dragonfly Ireland data set

We thank all of you who we contacted to clarify aspects of the records you submitted, your speedy replies made our data validation process very efficient. This validation process means that we can stand over the records in our mapping system and assure data users that the data is as accurate and robust as possible.


Due to the ongoing Covid19 measures, we have had to cancel our planned workshops for June, and the likleihood of running those planned for later in the summer is not certain.

But do not despair! We have already added five short online training modules on dragonfly and damselfly identification, based on our workshop talks, to our website. These will shortly be followed by additional training modules on the Dragonfly Ireland survey and field skills. So while we may not be able to deliver the practical side of the workshops, at least you will be able to access the workshop talks at your own convenience.

To access the workshop talks, please click here.

Citizen Science Volunteer Effort Survey

As part of assessing the impacts of Dragonfly Ireland 2019 – 2024 on dragonfly and damselfly survey effort across Ireland we would like you to answer a few short questions on the amount of time you spent recording dragonflies and damselflies in 2019. The survey should take no more than 2 or 3 minutes to complete and will give us an indication of the total effort invested by citizen science volunteers in recording dragonflies and damselflies each year of the survey.

Please CLICK HERE to access the survey and thank you in advance! 🙂

Have You Tried our Dragonfly Recorder Survey?

Have you completed one of our Dragonfly Recorder or Monitor surveys in 2019?

These surveys are designed to help us assess the value of dragonflies and damselflies as bio-indicators of freshwater habitat quality and climate change. If you have not yet tried a survey why not give it a go? The survey involves recording all dragonfly and damselfy species at a site (e.g. pond, stream or stretch of river) twice during the summer.

If you have attempted a survey (either successfully or unsuccessfully) we would like to know what you thought of the experience… was it easy?… was it too difficult?… how could we improve the survey? Email us at:


For further details of our Dragonfly Recorder and Dragonfly Monitor surveys, please visit our surveys web page.

Dragonfly Dash! 2020

We will be running two Dragonfly Dashes this year. The first will kick off this weekend to coincide with the run up to Biodiversity Day (16th – 24th May). The second will run during National Heritage Week (15th – 23rd August). All records will be entered into a draw for a copy of a ‘Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ireland’ by Robert Thompson and Brian Nelson. For info on our first Dragonfly Dash of 2020 please click here.

Some guidelines when using the Data Centre’s Citizen Science Portal

We have noticed that there are some issues cropping up with the submission of records. To help with these, we have outlined some guidelines that we hope might help.

  • As you know, records can be submitted either through the online form or through the mobile phone Biodiversity Data Capture app. The app should only be used when you are recording in the field as it automatically captures the location using the phone’s GPS. Don’t use the app when you are not at the location of the record as it will generate an incorrect grid reference. Any records captured in the field can be saved on the phone and uploaded when you are back on a wifi connection.
  • All other records should be submitted using the Dragonfly Ireland online recording form; use of the larger screen on a laptop or PC provides a greater level of accuracy with pinpointing locations on the map, for example.
  • Please make sure to provide your full name as records without the name of the recorder cannot be used as Recorder Name is one of the mandatory elements of a valid biological record: please provide your full name in the following format – Paddy Murphy
  • For ‘Location name’ please provide the name of the village, town or townland in which the sighting was made. This allows us to verify that it matches with the grid reference for that location. Please provide in the following format – Carriganore, Co. Waterford
  • If the sighting was made in a private home, please DO NOT provide the house number, just the name of the street or the housing estate, eg. The Paddocks, Kilkcullen, Co. Kildare. [Not No.66, The Paddocks, Kilcullen].
  • You are encouraged to submit a photograph with each record as it aids verification. If cannot obtain a photo, you are required to submit a brief note on the features seen that allowed you to confirm the identification. This is to aid our data validation process.
  • For common species that are regularly seen in an area it is recommended that sightings on no more than a weekly basis are submitted. Having weekly, or monthly records is valuable as it allows us to determine the flight period for each species.
  • The current system does not allow records submitted in error to be amended easily. However, if you want to flag a record submission error to us, please email dragonflyireland@biodiversityireland.ie

Once again, thank you for taking the time to submit your records for Dragonfly Ireland 2019 – 2024. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Best Regards,

Dave Wall
Citizen Science Officer