31 October 2010

October odes at Crosswinds Marsh

Several later date odes were found in Wayne County, Michigan this October (2010). I visited phase I of Crosswinds Marsh a few times to search for a new species in the county.

- A couple of Spotted Spreadwings (Lestes congener) were found on 10/16. Here is a male and the spots on the underside of the thorax are visible:

- A few Familiar Bluets (Enallagma civile) were flying on 10/16. Here is a male:

- A big surprise was an Orange Bluet (Enallagma signatum) on 10/16. This poor quality photo was shot through my binoculars:

- A single male Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa) was found on 10/10. Here is a lateral view, but one can see the blue spots on the underside of the abdomen:

- A few Band-winged Meadowhawks (Sympetrum semicinctum) were found on 10/9. Here is a male:

Here is a coupled pair from 10/16:

- female Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) on 10/9:

The end of the flight season in Michigan is nearing and suspect I'll only be able to find a few species into November. The possibilities are: Great Spreadwing (Archilestes grandis), Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita), Spotted Spreadwing (L. congener), and Autumn Meadowhawk (S. vicinum). Although I did hear of a darner being seen near the Pointe Mouillee SGA headquarters on 10/29.

02 October 2010

Fall's Bounty

Checking the weather on the morning of September 29th, I found the afternoon was to be sunny, 70F, with southerly winds. Southern species and late dates were on my mind, so I took a 1/2 day of vacation and headed to the Humbug Marsh Unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.

If you read the previous post, you already know of the highlight for the day.

However, there were many additional species flying, some of which represented late or near record late dates for Michigan.

This male Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa) must have perched below the roosting cormorants:

There were a few flying along the edges of the shadows.

A common species, but still a beauty is this female Common Green Darner (Anax junius):

A male Elusive Clubtail (Stylurus notatus) is a great, late season ode:

Read more about their identification here.

Female Eastern (Common) Pondhawks (Erythemis simplicicollis) are always nice:

Three or four were found in the upland areas.

Gliders and saddlebags were numerous. The southern winds of the previous days must have pushed some individuals north.

Here's a male Spot-winged Glider (Pantala hymenaea):

There were several reddish-colored saddlebags flying about.

Here's a male Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta):

...and here's a female Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina):

Finally, this was my first sighting of a Striped Saddlebags (Tramea calverti):

Truly, the first evidence of this species in Michigan.

01 October 2010

First state record: Striped Saddlebags

Striped Saddlebags (Tramea calverti) is a mostly tropical species that is typically resident only in the deep south, primarily Texas. They are prone to vagrancy, and Nick Donnelly's dot-map project shows a smattering of records from northern states:

Occasionally, Striped Saddlebags make a major movement; for instance, there were numerous records in New York and New Jersey in the late summer of 1992. In 2007, there were some northern records, including in Ohio. We made a purposeful effort to look for it, along with Band-winged Dragonlet, that year. We were successful in finding the dragonlet for Michigan's first state record at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Humbug Marsh Unit.

Striped Saddlebags has remained in the back of our minds ever since. In the last month, reports of this species have popped up all over: in Chicago at Montrose; Two Harbors, MN; a boatload at Cape May, NJ; Delaware, New Hampshire, and at least six on 24 September at Metzger Marsh in Ohio.

At the Humbug Marsh Unit, adjacent to the Detroit River, is a large open area with many scattered dogwood shrubs. Trameas, Common Green Darners, and Pantalas love perching and gathering in this area in autumn, making it an ideal location to look for Striped Saddlebags. If they had flown into Michigan on the strong south winds we had in late September, this would be the place to look.

Sure enough, on the warm sunny afternoon of 29 September, at least three or four Striped Saddlebags were present.

Darrin did all the heavy lifting, taking the afternoon off work to search, determined to find this species. My two hours joining him largely represented the dry spell for sightings for the afternoon. In fact, we were giving up and heading back to the car, discussing a return strategy for the next day, when one flew right in front of him, allowing him to snag it for the state voucher.

We also found several other red-colored Trameas, and were able to voucher both Carolina Saddlebags (T. carolina) and Red Saddlebags (T. onusta) which is quite rare in Michigan.

This is state record number 6 for the Urban Dragon Hunters. In 2007, we took a photo of a Band-winged Dragonlet -- not only a first state record, but the northernmost record for North America -- with the stacks of the power plant adjacent to Humbug in the background:

Thus, we thought it was fitting to do the same with the Striped Saddlebags:

We think it really represents the highly urban nature of our dragon hunting. There are nearly 100 species of dragonflies and damselflies now recorded for Wayne County, MI. We've seen all but about five of them in the last 10 years -- and were the first to verify over half. This shows what you can find in your own backyard, even if it is in the big city.

Donnelly, T.W. 2004. Distribution of North American Odonata. Part II: Macromiidae, Corduliidae and Libellulidae. Bulletin of American Odonatology 8(1):1-32.

Soltesz, K. 1992. An invasion of Tramea calverti on the Northeast coast. Argia 4(3):9-10.