Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Visit To Heart Lake

Yesterday, Betsy and I went to Heart Lake after lunch. It was a beautiful day, temperatures in the 70s and not a cloud in the sky. Nice and calm too. We were glad we went because the dragonfly activity was high.

Here's the location of Heart Lake. It's within the city limits of Anacortes, and also a part of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands.

The first thing we noticed as we got out of the car was an abundance of Pacific Forktails. They were all over the place. Every step you took in the grass flushed a small cloud of them. Most were immatures, and many were females.

The females are quite striking in this species. Here are a couple examples:

Notice the single blue segment at the tip of the abdomen (males have two) and the stripes on the top of the thorax (males have spots).

Here's a look at the ovipositor of this species—the "bulge" at the tip of the abdomen. The female uses this to cut a slit in a stem in which to deposit her eggs.

Here's the male Pacific Forktail for comparison:

As mentioned above, he has two blue segments at the tip of the abdomen, and blue spots on top of the thorax.

We also saw lots of Dot-tailed Whitefaces. They love lily pads, but there were so many of them that they were perching all over the place.

Notice the chalk-white face, and the yellow "dot" on the abdomen.

Western Pondhawks were also numerous. Many were quite young and fresh in appearance, like the female shown below.

Here's a male showing off his blue color, and his "Groucho Marx" mustache.

Cardinal Meadowhawks were common, as well. Notice the red wing patches near the base of the wings, the bright red face, and the intense red dorsal fovea on the top of the eyes. In contrast, you can see one of the white dots on the side of the thorax.

We also saw Variegated Meadowhawks, which seemed to prefer perching on the ground near the shore of the lake. Notice the complex pattern on the abdomen. Just barely visible is one of the yellow dots this species has on the sides of the thorax.

Of particular interest was a single Four-spotted Skimmer. It was the first of its species to be observed at Heart Lake (though they are common at Cranberry Lake).

All in all, it was a beautiful day at Heart Lake, and a sure indication that dragonfly season is well underway.

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