Monday, August 11, 2014

Follow Up On Field Trip

The dragonfly field trip on Saturday was a delightful success.  Great weather, and a wonderful group of dragonfly enthusiasts to share the experience.  Thanks to all of you for taking the time to join us on one of our odonate explorations.  Your enthusiasm and insightful questions make the field trips a memorable experience for us.

The dragonflies were very cooperative, as you might expect on such a sunny, warm day.  We saw most of the "usual suspects," and one surprise species as well.  Here's our species list:

Damselflies
Spotted Spreadwing
Tule Bluet
Northern/Boreal Bluet
Pacific Forktail

Dragonflies
Paddle-tailed Darner (the Happy-face Darner)
Blue-eyed Darner
Four-spotted Skimmer
Eight-spotted Skimmer
Cardinal Meadowhawk
Red-veined Meadowhawk
Striped Meadowhawk
Western Pondhawk (our surprise species)

Here are some photos of the species mentioned above:

Clockwise from upper left:  Spotted Spreadwing (staircase pattern on side of thorax), Tule Bluet (dash-dash-dash-dash), Northern/Boreal Bluet (dash-dot-dash-dot), Pacific Forktail (no blue until the tip of the tail).

Clockwise from upper left:  Paddle-tailed Darner (Mr. Happy-face), Blue-eyed Darner, Four-spotted Skimmer, Eight-spotted Skimmer.

Clockwise from upper left:  Cardinal Meadowhawk (opaque red at base of wings), Red-veined Meadowhawk (Anacortes specialty), Striped Meadowhawk, Western Pondhawk (our only green dragonfly).

Thanks again for joining us.  We look forward to our next trip.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dragonfly Field Trip, Saturday, August 9

Greetings Dragonfliers!

We hope you can join us at noon this Saturday, August 9, for a fun field trip to look for dragonflies and damselflies in Anacortes!  The weather looks favorable, and we expect to see a good number of species and individuals.

Here are the details:

Meet at Smiley's Bottom (directions below) at noon.  We'll gather in the parking lot next to the restrooms and picnic tables (you might want to have lunch there just before noon).  Later, we'll carpool to Little Cranberry Lake, which is just a mile or so away.  We'll probably finish up around 3:00 pm.

Bring binoculars and cameras.  Also, bring a spotting scope if you have one – they provide excellent views.

Here's how to get to Smiley's Bottom:

1.  Enter Anacortes from Hwy 20 at the traffic circle and go North on Commercial Avenue.
2.  Turn left onto 12th Street (at the Safeway).
3.  Turn left onto G Street.
4.  Go one block South to the parking lot at the baseball fields.  Enter the closest parking area and go to your right to the meeting point.

Below is a map showing the route to the Smiley's Bottom parking area, and to Little Cranberry Lake as well.


The ground could be a bit soggy in a few places at Smiley's Bottom, it is "bottom land" after all, but it probably won't be muddy.  The footing is fine at Cranberry Lake.

Here's a list of the species we're likely to encounter on our trip:

Damselflies
Spotted Spreadwing
Tule Bluet
Northern/Boreal Bluet
Pacific Forktail

Dragonflies
Paddle-tailed Darner (the Happy-face Dragonfly)
California Darner
Blue-eyed Darner
Variegated Meadowhawk
Cardinal Meadowhawk
Red-veined Meadowhawk
Striped Meadowhawk
Four-spotted Skimmer
Eight-spotted Skimmer
Blue Dasher

At Smiley's Bottom we should see Red-veined Meadowhawks, a fairly uncommon dragonfly that we've seen at this location but no others, and Paddle-tailed Darners hovering over the ditches.

At Little Cranberry Lake we should see lots of territorial interactions between the Four-spotted Skimmers and Eight-spotted Skimmers.  We should also see some splash-dunking and spin-drying.

Happy Dragonflying!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dragonflying In Anacortes

Betsy and I spent some time after lunch today dragonflying at Cranberry Lake and Smiley's Bottom.  Pretty good activity at both locations.

The main species we saw today are summarized in the photo below:

Clockwise from upper left: Paddle-tailed Darner, Variegated Meadowhawk, Striped Meadowhawk (female), Red-veined Meadowhawk, Eight-spotted Skimmer, Four-spotted Skimmer, Spotted Spreadwing, Blue-eyed Darner.

We saw a fair amount of splash-dunking and spin-drying at Cranberry Lake.  As soon as we got there, a Blue-eyed Darner did 4 splash-dunks, before performing a very visible spin-dry.  After that a Four-spotted Skimmer did 3 splash-dunks and a spin-dry.  Later, we saw an Eight-spotted Skimmer do a series of 3 events in rapid succession, each consisting of one splash-dunk followed by one spin-dry.  Other Eight-spotted Skimmers were observed to splash-dunk as well.  This made the lake quite active today both in terms of the number of splash-dunks observed (8), and the number of species doing the splash-dunks (3).

We saw many Red-veined Meadowhawks at Smiley's Bottom.  So far, this is the only location where we've observed these dragonflies, but they are there in numbers every year.

This was also out first observation of the Paddle-tailed Darner for this year.  It was great to see our old friend again, patrolling the ditches, protecting territories and searching for females.

Paddle-tailed Darner (male) hovering over his territory in a ditch at Smiley's Bottom.

The were constantly hovering, giving time to observe their yellowish thorax stripes, blue spots on S10, paddle-shaped appendages, and of course, the happy face smiling back at you.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Dragonfly Whisperer Spoke: The Prescott Talk

Betsy and I had a wonderful time in Prescott.  We made a lot of new friends, and enjoyed a field trip the next day.  Thanks to all who attended the talk – you made it a memorable experience for us.

Here's an advertising flyer for the talk:



We were also delightfully surprised after the talk with a nice plague to commemorate the event.  I have it hanging in my office now.


Thanks again to the Prescott Audubon Society – we look forward to our next visit!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Whisperer Speaks Tomorrow!

Here's sort of an engraved invitation to tomorrow's dragonfly talk, by way of the Vitruvian Darner:


This dragonfly (the Happy-face Dragonfly) shows the nice proportions of da Vinci's Vitruvian Man.

I was curious how these proportions would compare with other dragonflies, so I tried a Vitruvian Glider, based on a Wandering Glider:


Not surprisingly, the broad, wide wings of the glider give it distinctly different proportions.

Both of these sketches were taken from photographs, so the proportions are true to life.

Off to Prescott tomorrow.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Whisperer Speaks: Dragonfly 101 Handout

I've prepared a handout to go along with my upcoming talk for Prescott Audubon.  Unfortunately, I don't know how many to expect at the meeting, so it's probably best to post the handout here where everyone can have a copy if they like.


This should make the handout available to a wider audience, and also provide a color version suitable for printing at home.  Please feel free to print out a copy.  No need to bring it with you, unless you want to use it to take notes.

See you there, Thursday.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Whisperer Speaks in One Week!

In just one week, on Thursday, May 22, 2014, The Dragonfly Whisperer speaks at the general meeting of the Prescott Audubon Society.  They've been kind enough to invite me, and I'm looking forward to a fun evening.  We also plan to conduct a dragonfly walk the following day.

They have a very active organization, with lots of different programs, and they've produced some excellent promotional materials to advertise the talk.  Here's an example:


That should attract some attention.  Even the Vitruvian Dragonfly is getting into the act:


Prescott Audubon's website contains more specific information:


Be sure to say "Hi" if you can make it to the presentation.  Betsy and I will be looking onward to seeing you..

You can find more information about Prescott Audubon at their website:

http://prescottaudubon.org