This weekend we had Russet-tipped Clubtails (Stylurus plagiatus) on the mind.
After checking a couple of previously known locations in Wayne County over the past week and coming up empty (for a variety of reasons), we decided to check the Raisin River near Dundee in Monroe County. Last year I did see one male patrolling the river.
We revisited the site near US-23 first and found very little other than a couple of Lyre-tipped Spreadwings (Lestes unguiculatus). The shoreline and upland habitat had been changed a bit in the last year with more shoreline trees removed and all the upland habitat being mowed.
Our next stop was West County Park. This is a great park bordering a bend in the Raisin River east of Dundee and has many upland acres of native prairie plantings. Upon arrival, this area looked good for Stylurus: tall trees at the water's edge, shrubby (dogwood, viburnum, etc) areas adjacent to the trees, with native or fallow fields upland.
Within minutes of walking the trail nearest the river, a clubtail flew up from the vegetation and perched on a trailside Monarda. A quick view with binoculars confirmed it was a male Russet-tipped Clubtail (S. plagiatus). Here is a shot taken through my binoculars:
... and a better view in the hand:
This is the first confirmed record for Monroe County!
Walking the edge a bit more turned up several more individuals including one coupled pair.
Also, a dark Stylurus clubtail flew up and away from the vegetation without giving time for species ID. It was likely an Arrow (S. spiniceps) or an Elusive (S. notatus) Clubtail.
Checking the river's edge turned up two dark rubyspots (Hetaerina sp.). I didn't even have Smoky Rubyspots (H. titia) on my mind, but there were at least 6 perched along the bank. This is the earliest in the season we've had this species in Michigan. Here is one of the males:
While poking around the edges, I flushed at least 3 Fawn Darners (Boyeria vinosa). These were perched amongst the shaded trees and downfalls:
At one point a Royal River Cruiser (Macromia taeniolata) was observed patrolling the river which turned and flew up over the upland area of the park. Later we found one hunting along the trail near some of the taller grasses.
The trail through the northernmost portion of the park turned a few Lyre-tipped Spreadwings (Lestes unguiculatus). Here is one of the males:
... and the claspers which provide its common name:
While walking back to the car along the road, a female Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens) was found hovering:
This great little park will require future visits. There is a lot of potential to find additional odonata species, and the prairie plantings provide great opportunities to see a great variety of insects.