Friday, June 12, 2015

Big Dragonfly Day Part 3

This post is the third in a series of four that describe Scott King and my search for dragonflies on 2 June 2015 to Washington Co., Minnesota. These photos were taken at the Warner Nature Center. The first is a Dot-tailed Whiteface, a species I have seen many times previously. They are often abundant on floating vegetations in lakes, but I have also seen them flying around the edges of forests. And, yes, they do have white “faces,” this one just happens to be looking the wrong direction.
This spreadwing was abundant around the lake edges. Not until my return home did I realize this species is new to my ever-growing dragonfly list! Scott King told me this was an Elegant Spreadwing, but my ears heard “Emerald.” Note the pale sides of the thorax, pale back, lower legs (tibia), pale back of the head, and emerald color on the back of the abdomen—all field marks for the Elegant Spreadwing. This spreadwing is found over lakes and lake-edges across much of eastern North America, west just barely into Minnesota.
Scott announced that Taiga Bluets are among his favorite damselflies. On the other hand, I have heard this claim made for at least a dozen other Odonata we have encountered during our travels. I posted on this species before and mentioned the field marks include the black adominal segments ahead of the blue adomine spot and the “U"-shaped mark at the beginning of the abdomen. This species appears early as it is able to withstand freezing during our Northern winters.
Springtime Darners, another new species for me, are among the first darners to fly in the spring. This darner hid in the grass. Scott, being a true dragonfly scientist, carries a net with him. I simply have no room for a net among my camera, binoculars, eBird list, and notepad—I guess I will never be a true entomologist.  He captured this individual to more clearly show me the two yellow stripes on the brown thorax and the dainty blue spots along the sides of the abdomen. Notice also the dark, basal wing spots. Springtime Darners fly low to the ground along waterways. Scott, by the way, released unharmed all the creatures he netted this day.

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