Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Heart Lake Dragonflies

We had a great time dragonflying at Heart Lake a few days ago.  Lots of individuals, and several species, were seen – including species we never see at nearby Cranberry Lake.

Heart Lake gets its name from its roughly heart-shaped outline, as can be seen in the following map:

Heart Lake (center, bottom) in relation to downtown Anacortes.  Cranberry Lake is just above center.

Perhaps most striking dragonfly at Heart Lake was the Cardinal Meadowhawk, with its intense red colors showing off nicely in the bright sun.  Here's an example of one of the males:

Male Cardinal Meadowhawk at Heart Lake.

In this next view you can see what I regard as its best field mark, the intense concentration of red color near the wing bases.

Male cardinal Meadowhawk.  Notice the dark red, opaque regions in the wings near the base.  An excellent field mark.

This field mark is completely diagnostic, and visible from almost any angle.  It will be featured prominently in my forthcoming field guide.

Notice also the intense red color on the abdomen.  It almost over saturates the eyes.

The Cardinal Meadowhawks were also laying eggs, which they do while attached in tandem.  Here's an example:

Cardinal Meadowhawks laying eggs in tandem.  The female dips the tip of her abdomen in the water to deposit her eggs.

While this pair was laying eggs, a lone male was trying to break them apart so he could replace the current male, as can be seen below.  It didn't work, though he was pretty persistent.

A lone male Cardinal Meadowhawk unsuccessfully attempting to break apart an egg-laying pair.

We also saw numerous Dot-tailed Whitefaces – more than I've ever seen before.  They were everywhere, flushing from the ground or grass with every step, and also sitting on their favored perches – lily pads.  Here are a couple photos:

A male Dot-tailed Whiteface showing off its yellow dot.

In this photo you can see the chalk white face reflecting from the jet black eyes.

Notice the cute little yellow spot, or "dot," on the abdomen, the reason for its common name.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Ship Harbor Interpretive Sign

A couple days ago we went to the Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve, which is here in Anacortes, near the ferry terminal.  Here's the location on a map of Anacortes:

When you get to the preserve you see this welcoming sign:

It's a very nice little park, with extensive boardwalks through the wetlands.  It also has nice views of Mount Baker and the ferries coming and going:

Lots of birds can be found in the wetlands:

In addition, Ship Harbor is home to a good-sized colony of Purple Martins nesting in boxes that have been provided for them.  The boxes are located on pilings in the water that are left over from a cannery that was at this site many years ago:

The martins are very active this time of year.  We saw several females coming to the beach to get grass stems for their nests.  In addition, we saw lots of interaction between the birds in flight:

Of particular interest to us were the interpretive signs along the trail, pointing out interesting plants and animals that can be seen in the preserve.  Here's a group of three such signs that was especially interesting to us:

If you look carefully, you may notice that the top sign looks a bit familiar.  Here's a closer view of these signs:

Now you can see the focus of our attention – the Happy-face Dragonfly.  Here's a closer look at the sign:

It's nice to know that people visiting the preserve, many of them taking a quick walk as they wait for the ferry, will have the opportunity to learn about the Happy-face Dragonfly.