A small and easily overlooked species, the Downy Emerald surfaces in mid May for a relatively short flight season lasting into mid July.
When in flight, the Downy Emerald appears drab in appearance, yet closer inspection shows a wonderful metallic green colouration.
The flight pattern can be used to help identify the species, and consists of a patrol of about 100 metres, about 1 foot or less above the waters surface, usually close to an overhanging bank side. Flight regularly holts while the Downy hovers on the spot, affording the photographer a small chance to capture a photograph.
Downy Emerald's tend to perch in sunny spots, often choosing to sit slightly away from the waters edge. They characteristically always perch with their head facing toward the center of the foliage.
Widespread in the New Forest and Dorset, although never in large numbers. Often found along the banks of large open water bodies. Brownsea Island has the largest colony I have yet observed. Also seen at Hatchet Small Pond and Dunyeats pond (Delph Woods).
Both males and females have a metallic green abdomen, with distinctive bright green eyes (pale chocolate in immature specimens). Males can be distinguished as they have a slightly club shaped abdomen. Both male and females have a hairy thorax and a marginal orange tint at the base of the wings.