Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dragonflying at the Gilbert Water Ranch

A few days ago, Betsy and I went to the nearby Gilbert Water Ranch (in Gilbert, AZ) for some birding and dragonflying.  Even though it's still early in the season for dragonflies, we observed lots of activity, and a fair number of species to boot.

We also had nice views of a number of birds.  Here are a couple shots of the Ring-necked Duck, which one would think should be called the Ring-billed Duck.  This is the male, and he certainly is a handsome bird, with a ringed bill outlined in white at the base, and a striking golden eye.

In the shot on the right you can see the reddish ring at the base of the neck that gives him his name.  You don't always get to see this feature, but when the lighting is just right it can make an appearance.

We also saw a Great Blue Heron fishing right next to us on one of the ponds.  He was nice enough to pose for a photo.

The Water Ranch is an important birding site, but they also recognize the presence of dragonflies, as attested to by their "Welcome" sign:

The dragonfly activity was constant – everywhere we looked we saw them on the wing or perched.  Quite a few species, too.  Here's our odonate list for the day:

Familiar Bluet
Rambur's Forktail

Common Green Darner
Variegated Meadowhawk
Roseate Skimmer
Red Saddlebags
Wandering Glider
Spot-winged Glider

The Red Saddlebags were particularly abundant, and some were even flying in tandem over the water, though we didn't see them actually lay eggs.  Here are a couple shots of the Red Saddlebags:

A Red Saddlebags from below.  The hamules (downward projections) at the base of the abdomen make it evident this is a male.
The same individual from the side.  The saddlebags are intensely red, and quite visible in flight.

Here's a shot of one of the Variegated Meadowhawks we saw.  On some of the ponds we saw pairs in tandem tapping the water to lay eggs.

A Variegated Meadowhawk on the shore of one of the ponds at the Gilbert Water Ranch.

No comments:

Post a Comment