Friday, August 15, 2014

Dragonfly Day

On Tuesday, 12 August 2014, dragonfly expert Scott King and I walked in a restored prairie just south of Northfield. With Scott along, I brushed up on my nascent identification skills. Here is a quick list of some of the odonates we saw. I have linked the species’ names to other posts I have published. We also listed three additional dragonflies, a Wandering Glider,  Black Saddlebags, and Common Whitetail, but which we failed to photograph.
Common Green Darner—These large, migratory dragonflies were just emerging from the pond. The link will take you to a more complete photograph.

Lance-tipped Darner—Scott netted (and released) a few of these dragonflies. In this photo, Scott is holding on to the wings. I was hoping he would net me a Canada Darner, which can be an abundant migrant, but which I have never seen.
Halloween Pennant—We found a couple of these gaudy dragonflies near a larger lake.
Ruby Meadowhawk—This individual is my first gynomorph Ruby Meadowhawk. Recently I posted a  photo of a male, and I have also seen an andromorph female. That some female dragonflies look like males, and others come in dark forms, are part of what makes this sport so difficult. This typical female is identified by the amber bases of her wings and by the black triangles on her sides.
This year has been excellent for White-faced Meadowlarks—always common, this year they have been abundant. Scott (aka, The Dragonfly Whisperer) demonstrated that, unlike most other meadowlarks, if you slowly raise your hand under a White-faced Meadowhawk, sometimes the dragonfly will perch on you. I have unsuccessfully attempted this feat several times since Scott's demonstration.
Eastern Forktails are among are most common damselflies around Northfield. On this male, note the green-striped body, the blue-tipped abdomen and the dark notch on the sides of the abdomen tip.
Most of the day was spent with Scott patiently teaching me how to identify spreadwings. This first damselfly is a Lyre-tipped Spreadwing. Note the large, inward-curved spines at the abdomen tip.
Also flying were Slender Spreadwings. Their best field mark is a tinge of white at their their outer wing edges.
Finally, Scott netted several Spotted Spreadwings. These damselflies have darker top sides than the other two spreadwings. Their best field mark, however, are the spots on their “bellies” (the underside of their thorax). They are also smaller than the others.

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