Friday, April 12, 2013

Things Are Hopping Now!

Well, the dragonfly season is starting to get in full swing now.  Until just a few days ago we've seen mostly older Variegated Meadowhawks that probably overwintered here, or possibly farther south.  We've seen them laying eggs at the ponds at Gilbert Water Ranch.  A few other species were seen now and then, like the Common Green Darner, Filigree Skimmer, Blue-eyed Darner, and Red Saddlebags.  Things are changing now.

A few days ago we went to the Gilbert Water Ranch, and saw almost constant activity.  Only a couple Variegated Meadowhawks were seen, and they were dark and worn in appearance.  The majority of individuals we saw were of other species, and they appeared to be newly emerged – in fact, many were brilliantly colored.  Here's the species list we compiled during about an hour at the water ranch:

Familiar Bluet
Rambur's Forktail
Blue-ringed Dancer

Common Green Darner
Flame Skimmer
Roseate Skimmer
Mexican Amberwing
Variegated Meadowhawk
Blue Dasher
Red Saddlebags
Spot-winged Glider

We got a couple shots of some of the flashier individuals.  Here's a sampling:

Common Green Darners were fairly common.  The male below appeared to be quite fresh, and spent a lot of time interacting with other males in the area.  No females were observed.

A male Common Green Darner.  Notice the contrasting green thorax and blue abdomen.

We also saw Mexican Amberwings for the first time this year.  The male below was dazzling in the bright sun.

A male Mexican Amberwing patrolling his territory.

We also had a few good looks at a Blue Dasher, only the second we've seen this year.

A male Blue Dasher was very active.

In a small stream at the water ranch a Blue-ringed Dancer perched on a rock in the middle of the stream.  This is a typical perching location for these damselflies.

A male Blue-ringed Dancer perched in a rock in a flowing stream.

As we observed the Blue-ringed Dancer, a couple male Flame Skimmers rushed by in a wild flash of intense red color.  It was an impressive sight in the sparkling sunlight along the stream.  One of them perched and gave me some nice looks and a couple photos.

A male Flame Skimmer on the lookout for its rival, who came along shortly after this picture was taken.

Notice that the front two legs of the skimmer are tucked neatly behind its head.  It flies this way too, giving it a more aerodynamic shape.  The legs are used to process prey.

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