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

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