25 November 2009

Limited Ode-ing in Yuma County, AZ

I spent a few days in and around Yuma, Arizona this week and only found two species of dragonflies. Of course, the primary purpose was visiting family, but I kept an eye out for insects.

#1 = Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)
This species was observed a few times at various locations near canals. This cooperative female was found in some saltbrush flats east of Tacna on November 23rd:

#2 = Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)
Two individuals were found at the Yuma West Wetlands Park on November 24th.

14 November 2009

Later dates for Autumn Meadowhawks

Nannothemis and I searched UM-Dearborn in Wayne County for a variety of insects and birds on November 14, 2009. We had hoped to find Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum), and we did find them!

Over a couple hours of walking the trails, we counted 73 individuals (primarily males, but there were several females). This temporarily represented a new late date for Michigan.

On following days, I had expected to find more individuals due to the warm November weather we were experiencing.

I revisited UM-Dearborn again on November 15 and only spent time to find 2 males.

During the following work week, I visited Robert H. Long Park of Commerce Township in Oakland County and found individuals on two dates.

Two males were found on November 17 and five males were found on November 18.

Thus, November 18th was the lastest date for Autumn Meadowhawks (S. vicinum) in Michigan. That is, unless we hear of someone else with new sightings.

That puts an end to the dragonfly flight season for the Urban Dragon Hunters in Michigan this year. The nets are put away until next spring or we take a trip to the south this winter.

Late White-faced Meadowhawk

While doing a survey at UM-Dearborn on October 11, 2009, I was fortunate to find a male White-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum obtrusum). This represents a new late date for Michigan.

03 November 2009

When a perched darner cooperates

During one of my few visits to Wetzel State Recreation Area in Macomb County on September 20th, I was fortunate to find a perched Mottled Darner (Aeshna clepsydra). This male allowed me to photograph it from both sides. Here are a few of the images:

Now that I have some decent shots of a male, I'll need to find a female next year.

31 October 2009

Happy Halloween

It wasn't found today, but the name fits the day.

Here's a male Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) found at Robert H. Long Park, Oakland County, Michigan on July 6, 2007.

26 October 2009

Smoky On The Water

In 2008, I found a female Smoky Rubyspot (Hetaerina titia) at Humbug Marsh. That was a new species for Wayne County, Michigan, and we had wondered where a population occurred in the area. Then, on September 18, 2009, Burt Cebulski posted to the Great Lakes Odonata listserv that many individuals had been found along the Raisin River. Thus, I decided to check locations in Monroe and Wayne Counties on September 19th along the Huron River.

First stop was the park along the Huron River at I-75 in Monroe County. This location gives good access to the river upstream from the I-75 bridge. It is essentially a location for fishing, but has debris dumped in the river and litter along the banks and in the bushes (not an attractive location). Within minutes I spotted a dark, male rubyspot (Hetaerina species) perched on the rim of a half-submerged barrel. Unfortunately, it was too far from shore to net. Checking other possible perches turned up additional individuals perching on a downed tree over the water. The near shore area was shaded, so I shimmied out on the trunk to get closer and with some patience, I netted a couple of male Smoky Rubyspots (H. titia).
Here's a photo of one while looking at the downed tree:
Here's a photo looking upstream. That is Wayne County at the far shore. I was able to observe this species on both sides of the river:
...and a close-up showing the overall darkness of the species:
...and a close-up in the sun:
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture any females for examination. In total, there were 6+ males and 2+ females of H. titia. I did not find any American Rubyspots (H. americana) at this location.

I tried another spot downstream of the I-75 bridge on the Wayne County side of the river. This was only a few hundred meters from the first location, but was sunnier. Here I found only American Rubyspots (H. americana). Following are photos of a male H. americana for comparison:

After this successful location, I headed much farther upstream to Lower Huron Metropark in Wayne County. However, I had no luck finding rubyspots.

Next year, I'll have to check additional locations along the Detroit River for H. titia in mid-September.

24 October 2009

Paired Lance-tipped Darners

Lance-tipped Darners (Aeshna constricta) are one of the most common Aeshnids in southeast Michigan. While visiting Lake Erie Metropark in Wayne County on September 7th, I happened upon this coupled pair which were most cooperative.

The female is of the yellow-striped form. Also, note the differences between the thoracic stripes of the left and right sides of the female.

13 October 2009

Wetzel State Recreation Area

While searching for more ode habitat in Macomb County, Michigan, I ended up at Wetzel State Recreation Area (SRA). This state property includes a wooded creek, open fields, and mitigated wetlands. The Friends of Wetzel State Recreation Area website has some good information about the location including an aerial map.

Unfortunately, I found this site in the latter half of the 2009 ode season, but I did find a good number of new county records and also recorded species not always seen in the hand.

Spotted Spreadwing (Lestes congener) were found on my last visit. Here is a male from September 20:

Swamp Spreadwing (Lestes vigilax) were found on each visit. Here is a male from August 15:

Double-striped Bluet (Enallagma basidens) were found on a couple visits. Here is a male from September 6:

Mottled Darner (Aeshna clepsydra) were the most numerous darner. Here is a male from September 5:
...and another male found perched on September 20:

Prince Baskettail (Epitheca princeps) were observed a couple of times. Here is a male from August 15:

Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) were present in small numbers. Here is a female from August 29:

I didn't spend enough time checking the stream (Coon Creek) due to the masses of mosquitoes, but there have to be species to be found along the waterway. Also, the constructed ponds and lakes have a good number of sandy edges. I'll have to check out this location earlier in the 2010 season in hopes of finding clubtails (Gomphids).

20 September 2009

Fillin' in the holes

Since we didn't have any structured projects this summer, I decided to try and fill in some of the odonata "holes" of the counties surrounding Wayne County, Michigan.

Macomb County's list is short so I've made a few visits to a couple locations that have potential. In this post, I'll highlight Chesterfield State Game Area (SGA).

This SGA is located between a subdivision and some agricultural areas. The creek running through the property doesn't appear to be high quality. I found very few odes immediately in the vicinity of the creek. The remainder of the property includes some forest, scrubby area and hay fields.

I only made a couple visits here but did find new county records. Here are some of the photos:

male Skimming Bluet (Enallagma geminatum):

female Common Green Darner (Anax junius):

male Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta):

female Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella):

male Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina):

19 September 2009

Another year, another Comet Darner!

On August 1, 2009, Nannothemis and I visited the south end of the Humbug Marsh unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. Relatively few odes were found, but we were pleased to find a female Comet Darner (Anax longipes).

Feeling Blue

On July 28, 2009, I visited the Novi Wetlands (off of West Rd, east of West Park Dr) over my lunch hour. I was surprised to find this fully blue Lance-tipped Darner (Aeshna constricta).

01 August 2009

A Truly Tiny Urban Ode

This year Nannothemis and I have been keeping an eye on a corner Ford Motor Company property in our city of Dearborn. During spring migration, a couple species of shorebirds utilized this small wet spot along an edge of "no mow" zone that was planted with wildflowers a couple years ago.

I had observed Lyre-tipped Spreadwings (Lestes unguiculatus) at this location in early July. Returning on July 10th, I not only found the Lestes again, but to my surprise there were a few dozen recently emerged Citrine Forktails (Ischnura hastata). Here are a couple individuals:

...and the habitat...
and surroundings:

The Ford World Headquarters is visible in the distance in the upper right of the photo above.

We initially found this species in Michigan back in 2002 and subsequently at several locations covering three counties, but not every year. This is the first time we've found this smallest damselfly of the US in our own city.

New Species for Humbug Marsh

On July 5, 2009, Nannothemis and I made a visit to the Humbug Marsh Unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge in hopes of finding a Cobra Clubtail (Gomphus vastus) as we had last year.

We searched the open areas near the Detroit River with no luck finding the target clubtail, but we did see the first Russet-tipped Clubtails (Stylurus plagiatus) of the year. In all there were at least six individuals (three males and three females). Here is one of the females:

On our way back to the vehicle, Nannothemis spotted a female Band-winged Meadowhawk (Sympetrum semicinctum). This marks the 45th species for the unit since starting surveys here a few years ago.

I'm sure there are more to find in the coming years as there are plans to daylight a drain and create pond areas in a portion of the unit.

11 July 2009

Celebrating the 4th with a rarity.

On July 4th, 2009, Nannothemis and I decided to search for odes in our home county (Wayne Co, Michigan). Two locations were in our minds.

First, we decided to check a small wetland/retention basin behind a (ugh!) Walmart in Canton where we had found a Four-spotted Skimmer (Libellula quadricmaculata) previously. Upon arrival we were "greeted" with construction equipment and barriers. The entire retention basin was dug up and enlarged. So much for finding any rare species here.

Next, we headed over to Holliday Nature Preserve off of Koppernick Road to see if any Great Blue Skimmers (Libellula vibrans) were present this year. Unfortunately, none were present, but in an open area of the brush we found an interesting skimmer that had us stumped for a bit. We had a female Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata) perched in front of us.
We never were in a good position to voucher this individual, but ended up finding what turned out to be a second and possibly third individual (both males). There were only six vouchers for Michigan previously.
It is always nice to find state rarities... Now if only we could find the last few species missing from the county list..

10 July 2009

Another county, another first

On July 2, 2009, I decided to search Onsted State Game Area in Lenawee County, Michigan. Another cool and cloudy day didn't bode well for ode hunting.

Initially I checked the boat launch on Grassy Lake and found several Swamp Spreadwings (Lestes vigilax). The only vouchers are from 1933. Here are pictures of a male and its terminal appendages.

Next I checked the upland area above the lake and immediately a couple of Banded Pennants (Celithemis fasciata) which is a new species for the county.
Here is a male Banded Pennant:
Here is a female Banded Pennant:
Also, found in an upland area, not too distant from the lake, were a couple of skimmer species.
- Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta), here is a female:
- Spangled Skimmer (Libellula cyanea), here is a male:
Another nice find for the day was a male Vesper Bluet (Enallagma versperum) which was found between Grassy Lake and Deep Lake.
Of course, the biggest surprise were the Banded Pennants (C. fasciata). Almost every time I visit Lenawee County, a new or updated record is found. This under-surveyed county will have more new species to be discovered in the future.