04 June 2005
Clubtails and damsels, oh my
Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum). Click me.
Today Stylurus had to lead a bird walk for an Audubon group in nearby Lenawee County. We like Lenawee Co., it's the closest area to here that feels somewhat rural, and we've enjoyed past ode hunting expeditions to interesting habitats like Ives Road Fen and along the River Raisin.
After the bird trip, we went for a walk along the mill race of the River Raisin at Indian Crossing Trails Park. In a quiet little pond off the trail, I found a number of bluets. Seen from above (uh, above) the ID didn't come to mind, but once I netted one, I saw the pretty yellow patch on the bottom of the thorax and realized I had Aurora Damsel, a new county record. I'm just learning how to use a new camera, so when I found a pair together, I didn't get the whole operation in focus, but you can see the color patterns of both sexes.
Pair of Aurora Damsels getting ready for the wheel of love. Click us.
Along the wood chipped trail next to the mill race we soon flushed a gomphid, which perched up in a tree. It was very teneral, mostly pale yellow. We combined all the segments of both of our nets to try to reach it. Stylurus had the honors, since he's 14 inches taller than I am. Even so it was a stretch, and it took him three tries (each a hearty whack on the limb where the thing was perched, not budging it) before we got it. Crap, another female. Thinking I suddenly knew all about female genitalia plates, I flipped it over. Hmm, the naughty bits looked a little like Gomphus spicatus, but clearly this girl was far too big. Staring at it, I suddenly noticed the long spines on the thighs. "Oh, duh!" I said to my man, "It's a Dromogomphus!" The dark shoulders were just beginning to darken on this fresh individual, clinching the ID as a Black-shouldered Spinylegs, another county record that we'd been after for a couple of years.
Black shoulder, spiny legs = Black-shouldered Spinylegs (Dromogomphus spinosus)! Don't bother clicking me, I'm already low resolution.
Stylurus spotted a stunning blue-spotted, blue-eyed darner patrolling the water. There's only one aeshnid like that around this time of year: Springtime Darner (Basiaeschna janata). We stood on shore waiting for it to come close by, but although it was chasing bits of cottonwood fluff, it really never got within striking distance. This was a "lifer" for me. As we were watching, another small gomphid flew by a few times. Stylurus snagged one when it landed on the trail: a male Lancet Clubtail.
It had been an early morning, so we headed for home. Other species we saw today were Double-striped Bluet (Enallagma basidens), new early record for the state (based on specimen records); Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata), Eastern Forktail (Ishnura hastata), Common Baskettail (Epitheca cynosura), and Common Green Darner (Anax junius).