The Kiddos were excited to hear about my adventures on Saturday, so since conditions were good for an Ode Hunt on Memorial day, we donned our hats and sunscreen, grabbed our nets, and headed out to our usual haunts to see what we could find.
Our first stop was Quarry Hill Nature Center. They have a great pond for Ode-ing. I had been there a week ago without much luck. But today was VERY different.
Right out of the gate we saw a bunch of damsel and dragonflies hovering over lake and grasses. There were many Eastern Forktails of course, which the Boyo set about to capture. Both kiddos went after anything that moved with great gusto. I saw a few Black Saddlebags zooming across the sky.
I was not hopeful about catching one of those. So I stalked a couple of dragonflies hovering close to shore, and finally swiped one out of the sky.
It turned out to be a Dot-tailed Whiteface, like we found on Saturday. They were just as plentiful today, but much more willing to fly, what with the no thunderstorms, low winds and warm temps. Still, they seemed OK hanging out with us for a few minutes. Even crawling around on the kiddos hands for a bit before flying off.
We continued around the lake, the children swiping wildly at butterflies, moths, blowing grass. And I noticed that the DTW's were hovering out over the lake, but there were others hovering and flying over the trails. I snagged one of those and took a look. The first difference immediately noticed was the beautiful blue/green iridescent eyes,
I could tell it wasn't a DTW, but I had left my ID books at home and had no idea what it was. So I got as many pictures of it as I could before it took off.
These are pictures of two different specimens, but there were dozens of them flying around. I figured I'd have enough for an ID when I got home.
It sure had pretty eyes.
We saw Common Green Darners, too. But I didn't get a shot of that. I also thing I saw a Red Saddlebags, which would be something. It was a distance off, but it was big, red and had red wing patches like the Black Saddlebags. I'll be going back to look for it. Keep your fingers crossed.
I saw a bunch of Twelve-spotted Skimmers zooming around and chasing off the Dot-tailed Whitefaces.
I didn't know if I'd be able to get one, but it turns out that when dragonflies are fighting with each other, they don't pay attention to the giant with the net moving slowly towards them.
TSS's are pretty common, but extremely striking.
This is a male, as evidenced by the white splotches on the wings. Females look similar, but without the white. This guy was extremely aggressive. Extremely. He was in full fighting mode, and wasn't going to take any guff from me. He buzzed his wings and struck at me with his tail.
He also unfurled his alien-like jaws and bit my finger many, many times. Look at the jaws in that photo above. After some reassurance that it didn't hurt, the Boyo let the dragonfly bite his finger, too. He was very brave.
It was a nice little pinch, much stronger than I thought it could be for a critter his size. He was so fierce.
Just before we left, the Boyo snagged a Bluet, and I got a mystery ode. I didn't think the Bluet was a Tule Bluet, so I got as many pictures as we could before it escaped.
I think it's a Familiar Bluet, obviously un-familiar to me. But another county record if confirmed.
My mystery ode turned out to be the female version of the Dot-tailed Whiteface.
Very young, as evidenced by the saran wrap looking wings.
Still pretty, though.
We grabbed a little ice cream as we headed to the lake at Foster Arends. Once there we only surveyed a small area down by the beach, as we were limited by the stamina of a four year old. But we did see Odes!
Black Saddlebags again, more Twelve-spotted Skimmers, and lots and lots of Eastern Forktail damselflies. The Boyo used these for target practice, and became quite adept at snagging them. He'd bring the net to me and let me ID the ode and we'd let it go.
He brought one to me and I saw the indicative blue spot on the tail of the Eastern Forktail male, and told him to just let it go.
"But wait, Dad." He said "This one has a yellow face. Look."
I did, and sure enough it looked like an Eastern Forktail with a yellow face.
I got a side shot of it, but it slipped out of my fingers before I could get anymore shots of it.
Ah well, I thought. Just an anomaly of an Eastern Forktail. Turns out that the Boyo had caught a Rainbow Bluet! Another identifying trait is those little orange dots on the wings. All the other damsels who have spots there, called stigma, have black coloring. Oh, and the legs are yellow, too.
I was so proud of him for being astute enough to see there was a difference between the one he had in his net and the thousands of Eastern Forktails swarming around. I've submitted it as his discovery for the County Record.
It was a really great day! If confirmed, Luke will get two county records for his Familiar Bluet and the Rainbow Bluet, and I'll add one for the Spiny Baskettail!
We're One Nerds, aren't we.