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Full text of "Oxygastra curtisii (Dale, 1834) (Odonata: Cordulidae) in Bournemouth, an historical note"

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118 entomologist’s record I/IV/V/80 

Oxygastra curtisii (Dale, 1834) (Odonata: Corduli- 
idae) in Bournemouth, an Historical Note 
By S. C. S. Brown* 

The first specimen of this dragonfly was taken on Parley 
Heath, Dorset, by J. C. Dale on June 29th 1820, but was not 
named and described by him until 1834. It was then lost sight 
of for a period of 45 years, when in 1878 H. Goss took 
six examples on a heath to the north of Pokesdown, near 
Bournemouth. He visited the locality again in 1882 and 1890, 
and made further captures. On August 13th 1900, he returned 
and made a sketch-map of the area. He did not say if he 
saw curtisii that year, but from the lateness of his visit, it 
would have been almost certainly over. Copies of the map 
were sent to a few interested entomologists, and acting on 
the information supplied, the locality was visited and a 
number of the insect secured. The heath in question was 
known as “Poor Common”, and was situated close to 
Pokesdown Railway Station. It consisted of a marshy valley, 
with a small pond at its western end. This valley bore a 
stream which ran eastwards for about a half mile, where it 
entered the river Stour, at a place called “Sheepwash”, so 
named from the time that sheeprearing was carried on in 
the neighbourhood. The locality had much in common with 
the one at Parley, where the West Moors river joins the 
Stour. The distance between the two places is about 2 miles. 

The land was purchased by the Bournemouth Corporation 
in 1900. In 1904 a considerable portion was converted into 
a public park and playing fields. At a later date the remainder 
was built over and the pond and stream filled in. The banks 
of the river at “Sheepwash” have been considerably altered 
by the dredging and straightening of the Stour. 

In the Hope Department at Oxford, are specimens from 
Bournemouth in the Dale, Lucas, Robertson and Nevinson 
collections, totalling 26 in all. The dates, when known, range 
from 1892 to 1905. One male, taken by Lucas, is labelled: 
“Christchurch, Hants”. Another, also a male, captured by 
C. W. Dale, has a label: “Iford, June 10th 1892 (C. W.)” 
There is some significance about these two, for it would show 
that both were taken on the banks of the river Stour, and 
not on the heath at Pokesdown. Iford is about i mile down 
stream from “Sheepwash”. In the British Museum (Nat. 
Hist.), are three specimens from Bournemouth, taken by 
R. B. Robertson in 1905, and one in the Gardiner collection 
labelled: “Pokesdown”. I have been unable to trace the 
curtisii taken by H. Goss, who died in 1908. 


I wish to express my thanks to Dr. Marcus de V.Graham, 
of the Hope Department, Oxford: to Mr. S. J. Brooks of 
the Department of Entomology, British Museum, and to Mr. 
P. C. Ensom, Assistant Curator of the Dorset County Museum, 
Dorchester, for their assistance in answering my queries. 

* 158 Harewood Avenue, Bournemouth, Dorset. 



Dale, J. C. 1834 Cordulia curtisii Dale, a species hitherto unclerscribea. 
Loudon’s Mag. nat. Hist., 7: 60-61. 

Goss, E. 1878. Cordulia Curtisi in Hampshire. Ent. mon. Mag.,IS. 92. 
Goss, H. 1886. Oxygastra Curtisi , Dale, in Hampshire. Ent. mon. Mag., 
23: 91. 

Goss, H. 1900. A locality for Oxygastra Curtisii. Ent. mon Mag., 
36: 241-242. 

A Strange Method of Capturing a Lepidopteron. — 
I have caught many sphingids and other Lepidoptera in various 
parts of the world, but never by a stranger method than that 
employed recently. 

I was fishing, singularly unsuccessfully, for black bass at 
the Ebenezer dam in northern Transvaal (near Haenertsburg) 
and in the fading light of a summer evening decided to attach 
a white float to my line. A moment after my first cast using 
the new “rig” I was rewarded with a sharp impact and the rod 
came alive in my hands — but lo and behold my float bobbed 
quietly on the water and there was no fish on the hook. It took 
a few moments to realize that a sphingid had flown full tilt 
into the “eye” at the end of my rod where it had wedged itself, 
its wings beating furiously but helplessly, and causing the rod 
to vibrate as if I had hooked an ESCOM power-line. 

Having freed the “monster” and sent it on its way, I 
retrieved my line and prepared for another cast. A sphingid 
dived past me and hovered over an upturned bottle top glow¬ 
ing whitely in the grass behind me. Its “tongue” was out and 
if ever I saw a moth licking its chops it was that moth. As I 
cast, the sphingid turned and zoomed after the white float as 
it looped through the air. And when the float smacked down 
on the water the moth hovered over it predatorially, before 
darting off over the marshes and tree-lined banks in search of 
more rewarding “flowers”. 

Thereafter, hardly a cast was not investigated by some 
passing moth, and if there had been a butterfly-net, instead of 
a hook attached to my line, I’ve a feeling that my “bag” would 
have been a good deal greater. Now I know that attracting 
insects to u.v. lamps at night is old hat, and that Morpho and 
other butterflies are lured within net-reach by placing a dead 
specimen on the ground, but has anyone ever thought of luring 
sphingids to a “flower sized” white disc placed conveniently on 
the lawn (perhaps a moving disc is even more attractive), or 
else placing a white plastic ball inside your net and letting the 
beasts fly right in? — M. J. Wells, Botanical Research Insti¬ 
tute, Pretoria. 

Blair’s Shoulder-knot in Cornwall. — With reference 
to the record of this species in Wales {Ent. Rec., 91: 322), I 
wish to report the capture of a single male in an actinic light 
trap at Veryan, Cornwall. The trap was situated on the beach 
in wait for migrants on the evning of the 23rd October 1979. 
— Colin Hart, 86 Brighton Road, Hooley, Coulsden, Surrey.