Thursday, January 17, 2019

Species Spotlight: Filigree Skimmer

Next up in the species spotlight is a dragonfly with rather striking markings—the Filigree Skimmer. This dragonfly has striped eyes, which is unusual for dragonflies, and complex stripes along the abdomen. In addition, its wings have an intricate, splotchy pattern of dark markings. Here's an example of a male Filigree Skimmer:



We typically see the Filigree Skimmer flying and perching along small streams in Arizona. Good places to find them are on Queen Creek in the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and on Tortilla Creek at Tortilla Flat.

Here's another view of the individual shown above:


The next photo shows the wing and abdomen patterns more clearly:


Finally, here's a side view of a female Filigree Skimmer:


The "egg scoop" projecting downward near the tip of the abdomen identifies it as a female. Notice that its coloration and markings help it blend into its surroundings.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year, 2019!

Well, it's here—2019. Here's wishing you and yours a healthy and fulfilling New Year.



And may it be a happy New Year as well!

In today's Rose Parade there was one float that caught my eye. It had a Japanese Garden motif, including dragonflies perched on cattails. Here's the concept drawing for the float:



I hope 2019 provides you with many delightful (and happy) dragonfly experiences.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas, 2018!

Merry Christmas 2018, and Happy Holidays!


Special greetings from the Happy-face Dragonfly:


To help us all get in the Christmas spirit, here's a physics problem from Walker Physics involving Santa:


The situation can be visualized as follows:


And now for the calculation:


Here's a bit of insight into the results:


Ah, nothing like a physics calculation to add to the enjoyment of a day.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Species Spotlight: Fiery-eyed Dancer

Here's a species of damselfly I don't see very often; the Fiery-eyed Dancer. I've seen it at Lake Patagonia in southern Arizona, near the Mexican border, and at the Hassayampa River, near Wickenburg, Arizona.

For a long time those were the only places I encountered this species—and then, unexpectedly, I found one in late May at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. It may be more common there later in the year, but we're back in the Pacific Northwest then.

In any case, here it is:



Here's a bit closer look:



The bright red on the eyes makes the origin of the name quite obvious, and the identification very easy. In addition, it's clear this is a dancer by the way it holds its wings well above the abdomen.

I hope I get more opportunities to see this striking damselfly.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Late, Late Season Dragonflies

After the last post about late season dragonflies, I wasn't sure if there would be any additional dragonflies to report on this year—especially since the weather turned gray and wet for several days after our last visit. I thought that might signal the end of the dragonfly season once and for all. Well, it turns out they're still flying.

We went up to Little Cranberry Lake yesterday at noon. Nothing. It was overcast and 44 ˚F. We went back home and had lunch. Then around 1 pm the clouds cleared and the sun came out. We returned to the lake and immediately saw an Autumn Meadowhawk sitting on the bench by the dam. It flew around some, and perched in various places. It seems that we only saw one individual, but one is a lot more than zero. I hadn't brought my camera with me, so I don't have a picture of that one. I thought I might have missed my opportunity for a last photo of a dragonfly this year.

This morning we awoke to a heavy frost outside that looked like snow covering the ground. We thought maybe that was it, for sure. Even so, we went back up to the lake at noon. It was sunny and calm, but only 40 ˚F.

At first, we saw no activity. Then I thought I saw one zip by behind me, but I couldn't be sure. Then, a few minutes later, I saw one perched on the dam. I brought the camera with me this time, so I took some pictures. Here's the male Autumn Meadowhawk we saw today:



This one flew around to various different perches, then Betsy saw another one, and I saw yet another one after that, so there were at least a few flying on this sunny, cold day. The Autumn Meadowhawk is a hardy soul!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Late Dragonflies

Well, it's still dragonfly season!

Yesterday we went to Little Cranberry Lake here in Anacortes. We weren't expecting much, since it had been rainy the last couple days. But the clouds cleared off by mid morning, and at noon it was a nice sunny day, with a temperature of 52 ˚F, so we decided to check out the lake just in case. I'm glad we did.

First, we saw a Tule Bluet, the first damselfly we've seen at the lake since October 9. Here it is:



Next, we saw Autumn Meadowhawks all over the place, with several tandem pairs laying eggs:



They would lay eggs for a bit, in their typical Autumn Meadowhawk way (see my field guide for more details), then they would land on the shore to rest in the sun. Often, this meant that they would land on me, which is always a treat!



Darners were also present—specifically, Shadow Darners. A female was laying eggs on the shoreline for quite some time, and then a male came along and attached to her. He tried to takeoff with her to mate, but she resisted. You can see the male attaching and attempting to takeoff in the pictures below:





Eventually the male gave up, and they separated. The female then landed on the shore to rest:



All in all, quite an active day, especially for so late in the year.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Cool Dragonflies

Well, we're nearing the end of dragonfly season. The days are getting shorter and colder, but there are still a few dragonflies out there. Yesterday, Betsy and I went to Little Cranberry Lake here in Anacortes to check out the action, and we saw quite a bit. Here's the lakeshore:



The temperature was 44 ˚F the entire time we were there, which was approximately from noon to 1:00 pm.

First, we saw quite a few Autumn Meadowhawks; mostly males, but a few females as well. We didn't see any egg laying activity, however.  Here are a few male Autumn Meadowhawks sitting on the bench near the shore:



This is a great place for them to bask in the sun. On the fence nearby a pair was in the wheel position:



Here are a couple males that at first glance appear to be in tandem, but in fact are just resting in close proximity:



Here's another male resting in the bushes just back from the shore:



We also saw darners, both Paddle-tailed Darners (Mr. Happy Face) and Shadow Darners. Here's a male Paddle-tailed Darner perched in the bushes:



For a size comparison, notice the small housefly at the 10 o'clock position.

Here's a close up of this individual, showing the happy face:



It's always wonderful to see this in person.

Finally, here's a female Shadow Darner:



A close-up look shows a bit of a happy face for her as well:



What a lovely November day at the lake.