Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pondhawks A-Plenty

Western Pondhawks are not that common in Anacortes.  Typically, we'll see maybe one a year, if that, and usually a female.  We saw a female on our field trip recently, and it was a bit of a surprise.

Yesterday, Betsy and I went to Heart Lake in Anacortes, which is near the road to the top of Mount Erie.  We've been there in the past, but hadn't seen a lot of activity.  That certainly wasn't the case yesterday – dragonflies were all over the place, and one of the most common was the Western Pondhawk.

The body of the adult male Western Pondhawk is solid blue, it's eyes are blue to green, and its face is green, with a nice Groucho Marx mustache.  Here are a couple pictures of adult males from yesterday:

Male Western Pondhawk.  Notice the Grouch Marx mustache.

Notice that these photos show the male perched on the ground.  That's where they prefer to perch, and in fact a good rule of thumb is "blue dragonfly on the ground = Western Pondhawk."  Our other blue dragonfly is the Blue Dasher.  It looks a lot like a Western Pondhawk, but I've never yet seen one of them land on the ground.

The female Western Pondhawks are all green.  In fact, Western Pondhawks are our only green dragonflies.  Here's a photo of one of the many females we saw at Heart Lake:

Female Western Pondhawk.

Male Western Pondhawks start off green, like females, not unlike many bird species where the young look like females.  As the male matures it turns blue from the tip of the abdomen forward, with everything becoming blue except the face, which retains its green color.  We saw many "transitional" males at Heart Lake, like the one shown below:

A "transitional" male Western Pondhawk about half way through its changeover from green to blue.

Look for more about our Heart Lake observations to come.

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