In fact, this is the prime time to see Happy-face Darners and to observe splash-dunk/spin-dry behavior. And the prime location for both of these activities – dragonfly central, if you will – is Cranberry Lake in little old Anacortes.
To take advantage of this opportunity, Betsy and I are offering a field trip this Friday and Saturday (October 5 & 6) at Cranberry Lake. The way it will work is as follows:
Betsy and I will be at Cranberry Lake, adjacent to the parking lot, from noon to 2:00 pm on Friday and Saturday. If you would like to join us and our dragonfly friends, just drop by any time during those hours – we'll be in the same location the entire time. Feel free to arrive and depart whenever you like.
We'll be looking for perching dragonflies (often 3 – 5 will be perched at a time), and thus binoculars, cameras, and spotting scopes will be most advantageous. We'll also be scanning the lake for splash-dunk events and the spin-dry that follows. Lately, we've been seeing one event roughly every 5 to 6 minutes, though it varies from day to day. A few days ago we saw a record of 8 splash-dunks in a row, followed by a nice spin-dry with water droplets flying off in all directions.
To get to Cranberry Lake (in Anacortes), head toward the San Juan ferry terminal. About halfway between downtown Anacortes and the terminal turn onto Georgia Street. A couple blocks up the hill you'll see a gravel road on the right. That road takes you directly to the parking area. Here's a map:
What dragonflies are flying this time of year? The most numerous are Paddle-tailed Darners (Happy-face), but we're also seeing Shadow Darners and Variable Darners. In addition, Autumn Meadowhawks are showing up in increasing numbers. Here's a link to a haiku about the Autumn Meadowhawk: http://thedragonflywhisperer.blogspot.com/2012/09/autumn-has-arrived.html.
Below are photos of the dragonflies mentioned above, along with captions pointing out the field marks that are useful for identification.
|A female Autumn Meadowhawk. The female is a brownish red, not as bright as the male. Notice her prominent "egg scoop" near the tip of the abdomen. This is a distinguishing feature for this meadowhawk.|
|A male Paddle-tailed Darner (Mr. Happy-face). Notice the blue spots on the abdomen that go all the way to the last segment.|
|The Paddle-tailed Darner (Mr. Happy-face) has beautiful blue eyes, and a charming face.|
|The Shadow Darner has a bit of a happy face himself.|
|The Variable Darner is clearly related to the Happy-face Darner.|
That's it for now. We hope to see you there!
Jim and Betsy Walker