Recording dragonflies

Dragonflies are a popular order of insects among birdwatchers. They occur at many birding sites, are relatively conspicuous, and can usually be identified fairly easily (with patience and practice!). Many have a close relationship with certain bird species, as anyone who has watched a Hobby hunt dragonflies will testify.

Just as records of birds are both of interest to the observer and of value for conservation, so are records of dragonflies (and other taxa). For these reasons – and with so many birdwatchers noticing and identifying dragonflies – we have worked with the British Dragonfly Society (BDS) to make dragonfly recording possible in BirdTrack.

Dragonfly records entered in BirdTrack are passed on to the BDS, so there is no need to submit records directly to the BDS as well. The BDS website contains more information about what happens to dragonfly records after they have been submitted to BirdTrack

You can also find out much more about dragonflies on the BDS website.

How to record dragonflies in BirdTrack

Whenever you are logged in to BirdTrack, you can add dragonfly records via 'Add records' in the menu on the left side of the screen.

Follow the instructions below to enter a list of dragonflies recorded on a visit to a site:

  1. Enter your visit details (site, date, time and, optionally, weather details, visit comment).
  2. If you have bird records, enter these as normal on the 'Birds' tab (this displays by default). Note: It is possible to add a complete list for birds but not for dragonflies, and vice versa.
  3. Before clicking the Submit button, click the 'Dragonflies' tab (indicated by red arrow in screenshot).
  4. Select 'Complete list'  (1 in screenshot below) if you are recording all the dragonflies you identified.
  5. Tick 'present' (2) for all dragonflies you identified.
  6. Optionally, add counts for any of the life stages or breeding activity of the dragonflies you encountered (3, 4). A key to the life stage abbreviations can be found by clicking 'see help', or you can hover over the 'i' for a reminder of abbreviation. 
    Full details of the life stages and breeding activity codes are shown at the bottom of the page.
  7. Instead of a numeric count, you can use the BDS count band codes (5): A (1 individual), B (2–5), C (6–20), D (21–100), E (101–500) and F (501+).
  8. Click '+' (6) if you want to add further optional details (Pinpoint Sighting, Habitat notes, Sensitive status, Remarkable status, Comment).
  9. Submit and confirm the list as normal.

Casual Records of dragonflies can be added in much the same way, using the 'Dragonflies' tab andselecting 'No' against 'Complete list?' on the entry page.

Recording dragonfly life stages and breeding activities

Life stage / breeding activity
What to record

Record the total number of adults (can be an estimate). Include tenerals (recently emerged, pale-looking adults that have moved from their emergence site) and all adults that are engaged in breeding activity. Record copulating pairs of adults as 2 adults. Do not include emergents (dragonflies in the process of emerging or having just emerged, but judged still to be at the emergence site).

Copulating pair

Record each tandem or copulating pair as 1. Also include these pairs as 2 adults in the adult total.

Ovipositing female

Count ovipositing (egg-laying) females separately, but also include them in the adult total.


Record any larvae, but do not add them to the adult total.


Record any exuviae (empty outer casing of larvae), but do not add them to the adult total.


Record any emergents (dragonflies in the process of emerging or having just emerged but still at emergence site), but do not add them to the adult total.

If you have any questions, please contact the birdttrack [at] (subject: Query%20about%20dragonfly%20recording) (BirdTrack Organiser).

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