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.

01 July 2009

Just when we thought we were done...A new county record!

A dull and dreary day (cloudy, windy, scattered showers, and cool) on June 30th didn't stop me from checking out a favorite dragonfly haunt. I went to Sherwood Park in Sumpter Township which is in southwestern Wayne County of Michigan. We've found many great species here in the past.

One of the first dragonflies flushed along the edge of the pond was a teneral pennant. The dark spots of the wings looked different so I swung my net. To my surprise, this was a new species for the county.... a female Banded Pennant (Celithemis fasciata) of the monomalaena form.

This is a species Nannothemis and I have hoped to find in recent years.

Some of the other species present included:

Slender Bluets (Enallagma traviatum) - the only location we find them in the county

Swamp Spreadwings (Lestes vigilax) - - the only location we find them in the county

Halloween Pennant (Celithemis epinona)

Needless to say, I am flabbergasted to find another first county record on a poor weather day. Initially, I was confused about finding a teneral individual at a location where we'd never observed mature adults previously. Others have suggested that it may have been possible that it had been blown in by the weather (strong winds) in recent days. I'm hoping there is a population at the park.

Some old odes...Refound

It was another poor weather day for dragon hunting today (July 1, 2009). (cloudy, breezy, and cool with threatening showers). I decided to try for new county records at Proud Lake State Recreation Area in Oakland County near the Huron River.

Strangely, I couldn't find many odes near the water of the Marsh Trail or the Huron River. However, I did find one Southern Spreadwing (Lestes disjunctus australis). The only voucher for this species in the county is from 1958.

I then checked an upland field that is regularly mowed. However, this field is surrounded by bushes and small trees which were attractive to young odes.

Walking slowly through the patchy grass, I found the following:
- 10+ male and several female Blue-ringed Dancers (Argia sedula) - only voucher 1917
- 1 female Comet Darner (Anax longipes) - only voucher 2007
- 1 female Black-shouldered Spinyleg (Dromogomphus spinosis) - previous voucher 1923

- ~6 male and 1 female Lancet Clubtails (Gomphus exilis)
- 1 male and 3 female Spangled Skimmers (Libellula cyanea) - previous voucher 1965
young male:
- dozens of meadowhawks (Sympetrum sp.), some with many mites

While walking back to my car, I passed a small, grassy patch and a large darner flew up and away. I'm quite sure it was a Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna heros), but there is some uncertainty. Unfortunately, there were no new county records positively ID'd. It just gives more reason to get out there again.