Saturday, August 31, 2013

Magnuson Park Field Trip

Greetings Dragonfliers,

Thanks for the wonderful turnout for the dragonfly field trip on Sunday at Magnuson Park.  Your enthusiastic participation really made it a most enjoyable experience for Betsy and me – and the weather cooperated too.

Here's a list of the species we saw:

California Spreadwing
Spotted Spreadwing
Tule Bluet  
Pacific Forktail  
Western Forktail 

Paddle-tailed Darner
Shadow Darner
Blue-eyed Darner
Common Green Darner
Eight-spotted Skimmer 
Western Pondhawk
Variegated Meadowhawk 
Cardinal Meadowhawk 

A few of the highlights were the intense red of the Cardinal Meadowhawk, the incredible blue of the Spotted Spreadwing's eyes ("you haven't lived …"), and the Groucho Marx mustache of the Western Pondhawk.  We also got to see egg-laying behavior in many of the species, including the Cardinal Meadowhawk, Eight-spotted Skimmer, Western Pondhawk, and California Spreadwing.

Here are some links to videos on my YouTube Channel (The Dragonfly Whisperer Channel) that illustrate topics that were discussed during the trip.  These videos are slow motion, showing dragonfly behavior at 1/8 normal speed.

1.  Dragonflies do sometimes prey on other dragonflies and damselflies.  Here's an example of a Paddle-tailed Darner going after a pair of Autumn Meadowhawks in tandem.  This pair was lucky and escaped, but many others did not.  Also, notice the egg-laying process in the Autumn Meadowhawk – first they dip the female's abdomen into the water where she collects a droplet, next they hover for a short time while she lays eggs into the drop, finally they swoop down and slam into the vegetation to dislodge the drop.  This video shows the whole egg-laying process, as well as the attack by the darner:

2.  A nice sequence of splash-dunking and spin-drying can be found here, where a darner splash-dunks into the water twice to clean itself, then spin-drys at 1,000 rpm to shed the water:

3.  The Happy-face Dragonfly can be seen in this spoof movie trailer:

Thanks again for sharing the fun of dragonfly watching with us.

Jim and Betsy Walker

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Magnuson Park Dragonfly Update

Greetings Dragonfliers,

I've been watching the weather forecasts carefully, and I'm a bit concerned about this coming weekend.  At the moment Sunday looks marginally better than Saturday, but neither one looks that great.  We'll keep checking and make a final decision Thursday or Friday.  If the weather looks too iffy we'll just wait a week and try again.

Here are a couple maps showing the location of Magnuson Park.  I like to take the following route, getting off the freeway at exit 172:

You can also get off the freeway at 145th, and then head south along Sand Point Way, as indicated here:

In either case, you arrive at the intersection of Sand Point Way NE and NE 65th St.  Enter the park here, and go several blocks to the first large parking lot on your left:

This is our starting point.

Let's hope the weather shapes up for the weekend.

A Merlin has been feasting on dragonflies at Magnuson Park, primarily on Blue-eyed Darners, and putting on quite a show for dragonfliers and birders alike.  Here are a couple photos taken by Gregg Thompson showing the Merlin with a pair of darners that it probably snagged as they flew in tandem.  Many thanks to Pam Pritzl for sharing the excellent photos.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dragonfly Field Trip, August 24 or 25

Greetings Dragonfliers,

Let's try for a dragonfly field trip next weekend.  We'll shoot for Saturday, August 24, or Sunday, August 25, depending on which is predicted to have the better weather.

The trip will be at Magnuson Park in North Seattle, which is a great location for dragonfly activity.

Details will be posted next week, but I just wanted to give everyone an advance heads-up to start thinking about dragonflies.

Last year we saw a couple Spot-winged Gliders at Magnuson Park, which is quite an extraordinary dragonfly to see in this area.  Will they appear again this year?

A male (notice the hamules under segment 2 of the abdomen) Spot-winged Glider at Magnuson Park last year.
The same individual, this time with a better view of the spots on the hindwing that give this dragonfly it's name.

More details on the Spot-winged Glider at Magnuson Park can be found at the following post:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Happy-Face Dragonfly Trailer

Coming this summer to a theater near you, The Happy-Face Dragonfly Movie.  Here's a small version of the trailer:

Looks interesting.

You can see a larger version of the trailer on YouTube at the following link:

Happy-Face Trailer

This is on the Dragonfly Whisperer channel on YouTube, where you'll find lots of other dragonfly videos:

Here's part of the text from the trailer:

In a world where dragons fly
One dragonfly
Defied the waters
And dared to splash-dunk and spin-dry

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Betsy's Blue-tipped Dancer

On a recent trip to Minnesota, Betsy came across a new damselfly for us – the Blue-tipped Dancer.  She was able to get a picture of it for documentation, which is shown below.

A male Blue-tipped Dancer from Rice County, Minnesota.

She knew right away it was a dancer by the way it "flipped" its wings after landing.  It also tends to hold its wings completely above the abdomen, another dancer trait.

After identifying it, we checked the range maps, and found that it's a bit uncommon where she saw it.  Shown below is the dot map from Odonata Central.

Dot map for the Blue-tipped Dancer, as compiled by Odonata Central.

Zooming in to River Bend Nature Center near Faribault, MN in Rice County, we see that the dots begin to disappear.  This is shown below.

Dot map for the Blue-tipped Dancer for Minnesota.

Betsy's observation was in Rice County, and only a single observation of this species had been made in this county before.  The previous sighting is indicated with the arrow.  Betsy saw the dancer on the other side of Rice County, so we'll add her observation to the dot map so others can know where it can be seen.

Here's a bit more detailed map showing where Rice County is in relation to Minneapolis:

Rice County is the boxed region south of Minneapolis.

A closer look shows Betsy's observation site, and the only other observation in Rice County:

Detailed map showing River Bend Nature Center, where Betsy saw her dancer.  The only other report of this damselfly from Rice County was at the indicated location near Northfield.


Betsy's observation has been accepted, and now appears on the Odonata Central dot map.  Here it is: