The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Beijing

Summer is a good time to experience the wealth of Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) that grace our local patches and, given the birding is usually relatively quiet at this season, the number of insect enthusiasts is often swelled by birders for a couple of months of the year.

It’s overdue to include information on Birding Beijing about these flying insects and so I am pleased to finally publish a dedicated page, accessible from the main menu.  The page includes a downloadable PDF of the 60 species of dragonfly and damselfly to be found in Beijing, including scientific, Chinese (including pinyin) and English common names where available. 

I am planning to supplement the list with images taken in the capital, slowly building up a library of images showing the different sexes and ages.  The image gallery currently has only eight species, so there is much room for expansion!  If you have any images of Odonata from Beijing that you are willing to share, particularly of species not yet illustrated, please contact me using the form on the dedicated page.

Special thanks you to Yue Ying who provided a list of species found in Beijing.  


Title image: a Dusky Lilysquatter, Paracercion calamorum dyeri,  苇尾蟌, in the Olympic Forest Park, 26 June 2020 (Terry Townshend)



In the continuing sultry heat of Beijing in August it’s uncomfortable to spend much time in the field, even during the early morning or evening.  A sun hat and lots of water are essentials.  And so for my latest visit to the Olympic Forest Park, I packed a heavy 2-litre bottle of water with my camera gear and made my way to the Metro for the 40-minute journey to the south gate.  I was hoping to catch up with the breeding Yellow Bitterns and some more dragonflies.

The large reedbeds in the south-west of the park were now very tall and, in contrast to my last visit when the bitterns were constantly flying to and fro with food, it took me over an hour to catch sight of my first – a young bird – that made a short flight across one of the lakes.  My only other sightings were of two other young birds, leading me to suspect that the adults have already left the breeding grounds and are on their way south.

Other birds were few and far between.  The reedbeds that have, for the last couple of months, been full of the chattering of Oriental Reed Warblers, were eerily silent with just the odd sub-song from one or two of these birds and, as with the bitterns, noticeably less feeding activity.

In contrast to the birds, the dragonflies were seemingly more abundant than ever.  One particular species is very common at this site.  I think it is a Sympetrum sp, possibly Sympetrum kunckeli.  Photos of the male and female below.

Adult male Sympetrum kunckeli, Olympic Forest Park, Beijing
Adult male
Immature male (I think)


Immature male (I think!)
Dragonfly hanky panky...