16 August 2006

A little "up north" field work

Last weekend, the Urban Dragon Hunters left the urban jungle for up north. In Michigan, "up north" is usually anything north of a line extending through the middle of the Lower Peninsula. We went to the northeast part of the state, hosted by Fancy Footwork Fred, new to odonata hunting. He has a great eye, but his technique needs a little refining. It involves a lot of scrambling, fast feints, and urgent whooshing swings versus a little patient stalking. Hey, we were all there once. I think we'll call him Pachydiplax, in honor of the Blue Dasher.

Probably our best find was Mocha Emerald (Somatochlora linearis), a new county record and one of a handful in the state. Another example of how little we know about the distribution of this species (last encounter is here). The only other emerald I've caught in Michigan is Brush-tipped (S. walshii), and we found a couple of those, too. New for us was Williamson's Emerald (S. williamsoni), which we unexpectedly found at a creek crossing on a pretty busy road.

We had four species of mosaic darner, which are always fun. They all look the same on the wing, and there is always a sense of anticipation once you net one and examine the combination of facial colors and the shape of the thoracic stripes and cerci to see what you've got. Lance-tipped Darner (Aeshna constricta) was the most common, as it is around here. Here is a green-from female we netted and released.

Canada Darner (A. canadensis) was also common.
We had one Black-tipped Darner (A. tuberculifera, what a cool name). Our other new ode was a Lake Darner (A. eremita), a county record. Here she is:

We were very surprised at how few damselfies we found -- species and individuals. As usual, Eastern Forktails (Ischnura verticalis) were most common. I found this dainty female having a lacewing for breakfast. Even the most delicate odonata are feared predators!

We ended up seeing 35 species and alas, the weekend was all too short. Summer is slipping away.


Barbara Burns said...

They are all gorgeous! Wonderful photographs! But I like the Lake Darner best - it has such delicate sky blue on it's (body?) and the delicate matching blue sparkles in it's wings are wonderful.

I see dragonflies here in the Houston Texas area all the time but they move so fast that I cannot see this kind of detail to know what I am actually seeing!

Thank you so much!

Snail said...

It's still a little early for much dragonfly activity here in southern Australia but I'm looking forward to the warmer weather so I can familiarise myself with our odonates. Luckily, we have a large pond on campus and a nearby creek, so that should get me started.

JAC said...

It's great to see how far-flung the Urban Dragon Hunter readers are!