30 November 2011

Honduras: the odes of Pico Bonito

We made another trip south this past holiday weekend (November 24-28, 2011). This year we visited Honduras and stayed at The Lodge at Pico Bonito (15.6929, -86.9022) near La Ceiba.

Travel to the location was easy. We flew into San Pedro Sula, then one has two options to arrive at the lodge: fly to La Ceiba or drive 2.5 hours via car. We chose the latter since this gave us a chance to see a bit more of the country. The highway was in amazing condition compared with other roads in Central America, but we soon determined why this was the case. Heading east from the airport, we soon encountered oil palm plantations which have taken over vast areas of land and large variety of issues. We then drove past immense areas of fruit production (bananas and pineapple). Upon arriving in El Pino, we turned onto a nondescript road leading through secondary growth forests and cacao plantations. When the forest became thicker, we knew we were close since the lodge is at the edge of Pico Bonito National Park.

The Lodge at Pico Bonito includes several buildings (lodge, restaurant/bar, cabins) and an outdoor pool. The grounds and gardens between the cabins are a mix of manicured lawn, flower beds, and an old cacao plantation.

These gardens were good areas to find young individuals of a variety of species.

Digiscoped female skimmer (Orthemis sp.).

The porch of our cabin (#2) provided the location of our favorite ode observation.

Megaloprepus caerulatus - our favorite ode in the world.

Megaloprepus caerulatus - close up of wing tips.

The property is situated along a ridge between two rivers (Rio Coloradito to the west and Rio Corinto to the east). These clear, swift-flowing mountain rivers didn't provide much in the way of odonata observations, but they were quite beautiful. The only species observed next to a river was one female Band-winged Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax umbrata). Perhaps this was due to the time of year?

Rio Coloradito.

Rio Corinto.

Each afternoon we took a walk to the Butterfly House since the trail went through an old cacao plantation with a couple of open areas. The clearing between the larval house and the adult houses was a good area to look for odes and leps.

The ubiquitous dragonlet Band-winged Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax umbrata).

Pin-tailed Pondhawk (Erythemis plebeja).

Erythrodiplax fervida. She looks like
she is about to do a swan dive.

On our last full day (11/27/11), we hired one of the lodge's guides Elmer Escoto for a morning bird walk. We went to a new trail created west of the Rio Coloradito. The area on the left side of the photo below.

We crossed a small stream in the forest that had a few patches of sunlight. That's all we needed to pull out the net and find a couple more species of odes. We turned our bird guide into a Honduran dragonhunter.

Our guide Elmer Escoto caught the rubyspot for us.

Hetaerina capitalis.

There were also several Argias present. These appeared to be of the Argia oculatus complex, type B.

Finally, that afternoon (11/27/11) we witnessed the large dragonfly movement that the Lodge's naturalist James Adams had mentioned to us when we arrived. On our walk to the Butterfly House, we spied 1000s, if not 10s of 1000s, of odes flying in an easterly direction. Here's a distant photo (click on it to view large...all the small specs are dragonflies):

...and a digiscoped shot through my binoculars:

This flight continued nonstop throughout the afternoon. Anytime we looked up through the trees, the numbers continued. We're not sure how many species were involved, how many days this continued, or the reason for the movement.

List of species observed and locations during our brief visit:
1. Hetaerina capitalis = small forest stream west of Rio Coloradito
2. Megaloprepus caerulatus = cabin #2
3. Argia oculata complex, type B = small forest stream west of Rio Coloradito
4. Telebasis sp. = small forest stream west of Rio Coloradito
5. Black Pondhawk (Erythemis attala) = Butterfly House vicinity
6. Pin-tailed Pondhawk (E. plebeja) = Butterfly House vicinity
7. Great Pondhawk (E. vesiculosa) = the Lodge's gardens
8. Erythrodiplax fervida = Butterfly House vicinity
9. Band-winged Dragonlet (E. umbrata) = any open area
10. Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea) = Butterfly House vicinity

10 November 2011

Updated Late Dates 2011

The mild November weather allowed us to check on a special species in Michigan. Great Spreadwing (Archilestes grandis) has only been found in Livonia through the years. Julie saw individuals again a month or so ago, and had noted goldfish swimming in one of the small pools of the creek. (this may not bode well for the odonata species).

On November 6, we waited until the frost thawed and then headed to THE location. Within a minute I found a male Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis) which marks a new late date.

Julie noted that she now saw a bluegill in the same pool that had goldfish previously, and the location where the A. grandis were easiest to find in past years. (uh oh) I walked further down the creek towards I-275 between the newer buildings. In the first sunlit, sheltered location I flushed a coupled pair of Great Spreadwings! Soon after I saw a solo male and either the same or another coupled pair. This marks the new late date for Michigan by 1 day.

These may be the last species the two of us see in Michigan this season, barring Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum).

06 November 2011

Last odes of the 2011 season in southeastern MI

While walking around campus at my workplace in Farmington Hills, Oakland County, MI, during lunch hour on October 24, 2011, I found 3 of the last dragonfly species of the season.

3+ Familiar Bluet (Enallagma civile)
1 Common Green Darner (Anax junius)
4+ Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum)

Over the following days I kept an eye out for these since the late dates for specimens was approaching.

On October 31, I was able to find a female Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis) for what I believe is a new late date for a MI voucher. The previous late date was an individual I had on 10/07/07.

This image is of a female I found in Monroe County earlier in October:

On November 2, I found one female and one male Familiar Bluet (E. civile)! This, too, is what I believe to be the latest date for a MI voucher. The previous late date was an individual I had on 10/19/10. Here is the male:

Today is one of the truly nice days remaining for this year. We'll head out to look for the last possibilities of flying damsels around here.