I know I have not written a ton about my last trip to the Rez. I am still processing. Still learning. So until I find the words for it all, here is another installment of Dragonflies and Damselflies of SE Minnesota!
We start way back on the second of this month. The temperatures were over 100 degrees for a week. On the 2nd, my home thermometer, which is in the shade of the shop, was reading 109 when I headed out. The kiddos stayed home with the Wife, and I was planning a very brief swoop around the lake with a camera, a net, and a bottle of water.
I wasn't sure what would be out in this heat, but I ended up finding this guy right off the bat...
He's a Blue Dasher, about an inch and a half long. The behavior he is doing is known as obelisking. Raising the abdomen (the tail end) up to point at the sun reduces surface area exposed and helps lower the temperature. I gave some thought to catching him, but he looked so comfortable that it seemed mean to make him fly around. So I headed out to see what else I could find.
I saw the usual crowd of Common Whitetails, Twelve-spotted Skimmers, a few Common Green Darners, some Black Saddlebags, even a Dot-tailed Whiteface or two. Not many of them left around. I was zooming in on an Eastern Pondhawk when it flew off away from the lake. I followed it with my lens, but couldn't get a shot. But there in the weeds was this guy...
A Halloween Pennant with the deepest orange/amber wings I've seen on one! Of course, the only other one I saw was last year at the rocket field, so I didn't have much to compare it to. But he was stunning! Also keeping cool with the obelisk behavior. He sat very still while I got pictures.
He flew off after a few dozen shots, and I continued the hike. I was sweating profusely by half way around the lake, my water was gone, and ignored the damselflies entirely to save time. As I walked I noticed an Eastern Pondhawk making short jumps in front of me, just casually staying out of my way.
On impulse I lazily swung my net at him, expecting him to zoom away. But no, he merely gave a half-hearted flight, and right into the net to boot. Almost like he wanted to get caught and photographed. So I obliged him.
He ended up leaving my finger after a few shots, preferring the shade of the trees. A bit further on I found one of his brethren sunning on a rock.
As I walked along the lake shore, I spotted this dragonfly...
A three winged Widow Skimmer. I got a few shots then got up close to see if he could fly. Turns out the loss of a wing doesn't slow them down a bit, at least not by human standards.He zipped away quick as you please.
I headed over to the little island, as there were many more Halloween Pennants over there flitting about in the furnace like heat. After a short hunt, I caught one unawares so I could see his colors up close.
Magnificent. It never ceases to amaze me how many colors and varieties of odes there are. Even the ones labeled "common" are anything but when seen up close.
It was a 30 minute walk around the lake, and I think I must have lost five pounds in sweat. It was so hot in fact, that the usually aggressive Common Whitetails and Eastern Pondhawks were sharing perches. Too dang hot to fight over airspace!
Our next adventure took us up to Foster Arends park for a look around. This was a week later, and fortunately the temperatures had dropped into the high 80's, unusually comfortable after the week of 100's. There wasn't much there, Some Eastern Forktail damselflies, a few Widow Skimmers and a Twelve-spotted Skimmer. It was still too warm to putter around there, and since I had the kiddos with me I wanted them to make some sightings. So we headed back to our vehicle to try our luck at the Park in Mantorville. As we walked to the parking lot, we saw a flash of yellow.
Not too bad. I could tell it was a Wandering Glider, and was very excited, as I have not seen one before. It glided low over the field many times, hunting. We all chased after it, but it easily evaded our nets, and continued it's hunting. After ten minutes and over 70 pictures (These are the best two) we loaded up and headed to Mantorville.
Not only does Mantorville have an excellent place to Ode hunt in a public park next to a gentle river, but they have the delightful distinction of being in a very under surveyed county next to our home county. So Just about anything we got pictures of would be county records. Like this Common Whitetail...
I snapped a picture and boom, county record. The Boyo is very excited about garnering a few more county records, and I explained to him that my method is to try and get pictures first, make sure I get good ones, and then catch them if I can for better close ups. I explained that lots of the dragonflies can be pretty easily confirmed by just getting good pictures of them from a distance, like a Twelve-spotted Skimmer for example, with it's unmistakable markings. So when we spotted said Twelve-spotted Skimmer, I pointed it out to him hoping that he would follow in my footsteps. But it was not meant to be. He dropped his camera, and with a blood curdling yell chased after the Skimmer. Another was nearby, so I got the shot...
With a sigh the Sweet Pea and I headed over closer to the river. She busied herself with planting rocks, which she deemed to be more important than the dragonfly hunt. The Boyo was chasing anything that moved with the hopes of netting something. So I just walked slowly and kept my eyes open. I spotted some Bluets along the shore, and knowing that there was just one other damselfly recorded for this particular county I figured I should get some shots and see if I could catch some.
This one seemed friendly enough, so after a few shots from a distance, I dropped the net over him and gave him to Sweet Pea to hold while I got some shots.
As she held him, he started biting her finger. Nibbling really, as their size sort of precludes any danger to humans. She giggled and said, "Daddy, it feels like a tickle bite!"
Fear of holding dragonflies... averted! I figured I had enough for an ID, so she let him go saying, "Thank you Mr. Bluet!" She is very gentle with them, and both of the kiddos are becoming pro ode holders, very handy for me to take pictures! This damselfly I was able to later ID as a Familiar Bluet, and it became county record number three for the day.
Next I spotted some Bluets with different markings, but they were sticking to some vegetation about six feet out into the water. I was not about to wade, so took a plethora of pictures of them, hoping for some ID-able shots.
Turns out the pictures were good enough for even a neophyte ode hunter like me to be able to ID them as Stream Bluets! County Record number four for the day!
All of a sudden the Boyo yelled, "DAD!!! LOOK OVER THERE!!!"
I looked to where he was pointing and saw it flying as he called it out.
"Another one of those Yellow Guys!"
Sure enough, a Wandering Glider was cruising around the river flats, looking for food or a good time. It only stayed briefly though, and the two shots I took at it were horribly blurry, as I had just been shooting the Stream Bluets. We're headed back soon, though. If I can get a submittable shot, the county record will go to the Boyo.
We walked up and down the riverbank again, but were not seeing anything new. It was lunchtime and I was hungry, so we headed back downstream for the car. As Sweet Pea stopped to pick a flower, I saw the biggest hornet fly by in my peripheral vision. I turned to look, as if it were indeed a hornet, it was one to give me nightmares. But it turned out to be a damselfly that I had never seen in the buggy flesh before! An Ebony Jewelwing!
These are easily identifiable by the all black wing, and iridescent green/blue body. I was transfixed by just how pretty it was for a few moments before it dawned on me that I should probably get a picture of it.
I took three shots before I netted it. It was HUGE for a damselfly, easily as big as a dragonfly. The kiddos were both anxious to hold him, and as we passed him around for study and pictures, all three of us oooh'ed and ahhh'ed as the colors shifted in the sunlight.
There are lots of beautiful odes out there, and this one is another example of one that pictures just don't do justice to. It was stunning. Sweet Pea decided to let him smell her flower...
And then we let him go to do his thing. County Record number 5 and a great finish to our dragonfly hunt on July 9th. That hunt brought my personal county record tally to 20. Not bad for an occasional ode hunter!
We are heading out tomorrow to do a little more hunting. Maybe in some new places, maybe back over in Mantorville or Kasson. We'll see how the morning goes.