Even the Red Arrow stunt pilots are no match for the aerial acrobatics performed by this fleet, four-winged creature.

Capable of flying in any direction in a split second, the dragonfly is one of the most attractive and agile of insects, with their shimmering, silvery wings and brightly-coloured bodies.

And one of the best places in the country to spot them is Moors Valley Country Park near Ringwood.

This summer a particularly rare species is now thought to have bred successfully at the park.

First recorded in Britain in 1996, the Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) is one of several species of dragonfly to have come over from Europe in the last 20 years to set up home in Britain.

Two confirmed sightings have been recorded at the park in the last month. Keith Powrie, who has been recording dragonflies at the park for the last 12 years, says he has spotted 27 different species of dragonflies and damselflies.

As there are only around 50 in the whole of the UK this makes the 700-acre park one of the top ten places in the country to see them.

“Moors Valley is one of the best sites in the country to spot dragonflies.

“There are 45 species in the UK and 28 have been recorded at the Park with 26 species having bred in its lakes, ponds and slow-moving rivers.

“Moors Valley offers the perfect environment for both dragonflies and damselflies and I am truly delighted that we can now add the rare Lesser Emperor to its resident population.”

Looking after the environment is an important part of the work of the Park’s Rangers and income from car parking directly supports a wide range of initiatives including the Park’s water vole reintroduction programme and extensive recordings of dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies and birds.

How parking charges help wildlife

Dragonflies can spend up to four years of their lives as underwater nymphs before emerging for a few short weeks as they mate and entertain us with their stunning aerial acrobatics.

In southern parts of the continent, the Lesser Emperor has a two-year life cycle. Further north this may be extended to three years. As one was last seen at Moors Valley in 2011 it is thought that the current sightings are the offspring of a mass migration three years ago.

If dragonflies were seen swarming over a doorway it was said to foretell heavy rains.

A century ago people believed they would sew up your eyes and ears if you fell asleep outside.

There is no entrance fee to Moors Valley so paid parking is vital to ensuring the continuing success of the Park.

Visitors will soon be seeing a series of new posters at Moors Valley explaining a little bit more about how their parking fees are spent, and letting them know that the Rangers and Moors Valley’s wildlife are both very grateful.

For more information on events at Moors Valley, or details of the Park’s many attractions go to moors-valley.co.uk