Sunday, July 31, 2016


Another visit to the Lower Huron Metropark today did not have any new species of dragonflies for me, but I found a couple of other things of note.  

Obelisking male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)

From Field and Roadsides by Tom Whelen:  Field guides call this upward pointing behavior obelisking, I suppose, because a tail pointing up looks like an [architectual-style] Egyptian obelisk.  [For example, the Washington Monument is an obelisk.] The belief is that dragonflies do this to reduce the exposure of their abdomen to the sun. Dragonflies breathe through their abdomen. If you get a close look at a dragonfly through binoculars or a camera viewfinder you see the abdomen pulsing as they breathe.

A visit to Crosswinds Marsh earlier in the week gave me a chance for better photos of Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta).

Above and three below:  The mating process for a pair of bluets.  I wish the photos were better.

Face of male Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)

Immature male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)

Above:  Living up to his pondhawk name:  Lunching on a bluet.

As I am writing this it is raining.  Hopefully, it will continue to rain throughout the night and our long drought will be over.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hickory Glen Park again

Another visit to Hickory Glen Park in Oakland County this past Sunday revealed some interesting finds.  I was in Commerce Township on Sunday to attend my family reunion and snuck away from family for a couple of hours.  This was my second visit this year.  My first was about a month ago and I wrote about it on June 18th and posted photos of a few finds.  

I wasn't expecting much.  But I found two locations that offered some dragonfly diversity that surprised me.  Three of the dragonflies were new for me.  Add a couple of butterflies that I have not seen in awhile and it was a productive visit.   

Above:  Northern Pearly-eye (Enodia anthedon) - am out of practice with my butterfly ID.  Needed help to identify this.

Above:  Bouncing Bet (Saponaria officinalis), a pretty but alas non-native, perennial summer wildflower.

As I commented, a former meadow of this woodland is now gone to a new housing development.  The house above is the subdivision model and a family of sandhill cranes strolled through the backyard.  They were joined by two others that set off boisterous calling when they flew in.  I commented on this new housing development taking out a former meadow and woodlot, but considering all that I found on Sunday it's proof that when some habitat it taken away, other habitat may be provided.

Above a new dragonfly for me.  I saw it fly and perch and at first thought it looked like a deformed calico pennant.  I had only one chance for a photo and after it flew I was unable to find it again.   It's an Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenura), one of the smallest dragonflies in North America.  I wish the photo was better, but I'll try again on my next visit.

Above and below:  I think both are female Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis) but the different angles makes them appear different.  I've seen lots of male blue dashers this summer leaving me with the impression that, along with Common Whitetail and Eastern Pondhawk, it's one of our most common species.  These are the first females I've seen.

Above:  Though it's a tiny photo of a Sympetrum sp. dragonfly, and I know these need to be netted and held in the hand to identify, I'm going to go way out on a limb and call it an immature male 
Autumn Meadowhawk (S. vicinum).  I believe another common name for this dragonfly is Yellow-legged Meadowhawk.  

If I am out-of-practice with butterfly identification, I am way out-of-practice with skipper ID.  Above and below: Going out on a long limb, the only thing I can make this out to be is a Little Glassywing (Pompeius verna).  I am prepared to be wrong.

Above and two below:  Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens).  This was the third new dragonfly for me on Sunday and I was excited about finding it.  I've since learned that this may be the most common dragonfly worldwide and that it's migratory with a worldwide tropical distribution.   Furthermore, in Michigan it's near the top of its northern range in North America.

A Wandering Glider in flight graces the cover of Dennis Paulson's field guide Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East, 2011.

Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

I also saw other dragonflies here, but didn't want to post photos of those that I have already.  I'll be able to make at least a couple more visits to this park before summer ends and I'll post photos of where I think these great dragonfly species came from.  

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The monster

I definitely need a better title for this post.  But this common green darner (Anus junius), recognizable to most who pay attention to these things, is big.  For the past couple of weekends on my dragonfly photo sprees I have been seeing them, always patrolling, but not perching.  

Yesterday at U of M Dearborn this female did perch.  I estimate that she was 2-1/2 to three inches long.  It's easy to see what a spectacular creature this is.   

Above and below:  Ovipositing

I have been seeing the same dragonflies - mostly males - in all of the locations I've visited.  Need to find some more species and some more females.

Long drought over

No, not rain.  We still need rain.  

This drought is a bird drought - my Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) drought.  Last Saturday evening, the 2nd, while looking for dragonflies, I was surprised to see one sneak into the phagmites surrounding a degraded little pit in the Wallpatch unit of Point Moo.  I returned on Monday morning, the 4th, and was rewarded with seeing three.  

Above and below:  During my first pass I saw one.

Upon my return from the Vermet Unit and just before leaving, I found three.  I wasn't able to get all three in one photo, but I did get two.  I thought they all appeared to be juveniles.  

The Wallpatch unit is an area that I don't think many birders bother with.  The little habitat the V. rails were in was horrible, but they seemed to be finding food while pecking around in the mud and the high phragmites provided plenty of cover for them.  I didn't see many dragonflies, but these guys were my reward for my July 4th Point Moo death march. Heard many times, but it's been years since the last time that I saw Virginia Rail.  This was nice.  

Monday, July 4, 2016

Pennants mostly during a weekend of odes

On Saturday, July 2nd I drove to Sherwood Pond at the corner of Wear and Sherwood roads near Belleville to again photograph dragonflies. I'd been tipped off that I might find banded pennants here.  I didn't find banded pennants but, amongst other odes, I found halloween and calico pennants.  I spent about an hour and a half slowly walking the east, southeast and south shorelines of this small lake. 

Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) in flight over the pond.

A better shot of the Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella).

Female twelve-spotted skimmer laying eggs over the pond.

Above and below:  female Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta)

A stalk over the pond popular with bluets and with a couple of exuvia attached.

A large fish in the shallows guarantees that many ode eggs get eaten.

Above and below:  I had a chance to improve on my shots of the male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis).

Above and three below:  The beautiful male Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa).

Above and three below:  Another beauty, male Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina).

Halloween pennant missing a piece of its wing.

Later I went to Oakwoods Metropark to find some clubtails - I didn't - but I saw male common whitetails, male blue dasher, and a bluet that was probably new for me.

I was running out of time, but following Oakwoods I went anyway to Point Mouillee where I again found halloween pennant - both male and female.

Above:  Male Halloween Pennant

Above and three below in poor light:  female Halloween Pennant.

Following Saturday's outing I went to Proud Lake SRA on Sunday - not a special trip but near my family's cottage.  I found the marsh trail and could see the odes flying over the pond from the trail.  However there was no easy access to the water that would have given me close shots. Lots of flashy twelve-spotted skimmers and black saddlebags were easy to identify flying over the water.  Bluets were also plentiful. Undoubtedly there was more.

On the trail I made the following three photographs.

Above and below:  I've been through both my beginner's guide and the Paulson guide and I had to ask for help.  These damsels are not identifiable by photo being probably either teneral female Enallagma sp. or Argia sp. 

Male White-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum obtrusum)

Another less rushed trip back to Point Mouillee on Monday morning, the 4th, I found both male and female halloween pennants again as well as many of the other dragonflies that I've already shown.  I did see a couple of new bluets but, being windy, was not able to get a photo in focus.  The video below is of a female halloween pennant hanging on to her stalk in the wind. If your volume is up you will hear the wind and a swamp sparrow chipping in the background.

Although I did not see Banded Pennant, Sherwood Pond was get lost-in-time fun and I'm sure I missed a lot.  Another trip is needed.  Proud Lake was disappointing but I don't know the SRA at all and maybe I was just not in the right area.  A kayak trip down the river would be interesting, but I don't have a kayak and it was super busy on Sunday as I'm sure it is most weekends.  I did not go to Point Mouillee at all last summer so I was way overdue for a visit.  I'm glad I went.  There is always plenty to see.  I did not make it out to the banana or even near, but others reported that the shorebirds are starting to add up there.