Thursday, September 20, 2018

It's Tule Time!

Betsy and I have been to Cranberry Lake the last several days enjoying the beautiful Fall days. The weather has been lovely, and the dragonfly activity has been interesting. Yesterday there were lots of Paddle-tailed Darners perched in the bushes (6 to 8 at a time), and many pairs of Autumn Meadowhawks flying in tandem.

We also saw lots of bluets, but the funny thing was they were all Tule Bluets, like the ones below:





Notice that these bluets have roughly equal amounts of black and blue on the middle segments of the abdomen. In comparison, Northern and Boreal Bluets have mostly blue with small rings of black. You can see this comparison in the pages from my field guide, Common Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Pacific Coast, shown below:





You can find the field guide on Amazon, at the following link:

https://www.amazon.com/Common-Dragonflies-Damselflies-Pacific-Coast/dp/1934199265/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537462425&sr=8-1&keywords=dragonflies+pacific

I was surprised to be seeing only Tules, but on consulting my field guide, I see that it is twice as likely to see Tules in September.

As with all bluets, the Tules are aggressively territorial. Here is one harassing a pair of Blue-eyed Darners:



We filmed a "cloud" of bluets at Cranberry Lake a couple days ago, and noticed that they are very accomplished at flying backwards. Here's a short video clip showing one flying in reverse:



Here's a group of them backing up in unison, like some kind of bluet line dance:



Fascinating creatures, coming or going.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Reader Visits Cherry Springs!

Note: Over the years, this post from September 4, 2013 has been one of the most popular on the blog. I thought I would re-post it so more people will have a chance to see what it's all about. I still hope to get to Cherry Springs Nature Area one of these days.

Not long ago, I was contacted by naturalist Sheri Covert at the Cherry Springs nature area near Pocatello, Idaho. She was putting together an interpretive sign to inform visitors about some of the interesting insect life to be found there, and asked if she could use a couple of my dragonfly pictures. I was happy to help with a project like that, and supplied her with pictures of the species she was looking for. Here's a rough draft of the sign, which looks very nice.


Here's an enlargement of the dragonfly section:


I look forward to visiting Cherry Springs one of these days. If any of my intrepid readers gets there first, please take a picture of the sign in place and we'll include it in the blog.


Follow Up:
Well, it's happened now—a reader of the blog, Thom Dyson, has visited the Cherry Springs Nature Area. He reports that it's a pleasant walk, though there were no odonates out when he visited in early June. Still, he found the sign, and took this photo of it on the trail:



It so nice to see that it's still there, five years on. Thanks Thom, I'm so happy to finally get to see the sign in it's natural habitat!


You can learn more about the species featured on the Cherry Springs Interpretive Sign in my new field guide, Common Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Pacific Coast. You can see more about it at the following link to Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Common-Dragonflies-Damselflies-Pacific-Coast/dp/1934199265/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537113380&sr=8-1&keywords=dragonflies+pacific

P. S. They have it at a very good price right now!

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Whisperer Speaks Again!

Well, the Dragonfly Whisperer is set to speak again, this time on Saturday, September 15 at 2:00 pm at the Arlington Public Library. Here's the venue:





As a bit of a taste of what it's like to hear from the Dragonfly Whisperer, check out this segment from Evening Magazine:



We look forward to seeing you there. Stop in and say "Hi".

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Dragonfly Whisperer on Evening Magazine

The Evening Magazine segment about the Dragonfly Whisperer in Anacortes aired last night (9/11/2018) on King 5 TV. Here's the segment as it aired:


I think they did a very good job of integrating my slow-motion spin-dry videos into the program—it was a delight to see them on the air. They also did a nice job of showing some of the dragonflies we encountered at Cranberry Lake and Heart Lake here in Anacortes.

They also talked about the Happy-face Dragonfly, which is always fun, and pointed out that it is on the cover of my field guide. As they mentioned, the field guide is available on Amazon; in fact, it can be found at the following link

https://www.amazon.com/Common-Dragonflies-Damselflies-Pacific-Coast/dp/1934199265/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1536788429&sr=8-2&keywords=dragonflies+pacific

They have a good price for the guide right now!


Below is the original post about Evening Magazine's visit, in case you missed it.


A few weeks ago, Evening Magazine from King5 TV came to Anacortes to do an interview with the Dragonfly Whisperer. It will be aired on September 11 at 7:30 pm.





They were getting some great shots with their video equipment. They could fill the entire frame with small damselflies, and get really nice close ups of dragonflies. Here's the cameraman getting a video of me taking a picture of him (notice the reflection of my hands holding my camera in the video lens):



We filmed at Cranberry Lake, where we took videos of damselflies, and at Heart Lake, where we concentrated on dragonflies. At Heart Lake we had a nice look at a female Cardinal Meadowhawk. They got great video of the dragonfly, as well as video of me taking pictures of it. They will then intersperse some of my still shots, like this one, in the finished segment:



We also saw several Eight-spotted Skimmers, again with the video camera getting great views, as well as shots of me taking pictures of the dragonflies. Some had quite a bit of wear on their wings, like this one:



One even had an entire wing missing. I've seen ragged wings, and wings with sections missing, but this was the first time I had seen a dragonfly with one wing completely gone.



As the cameraman for Evening Magazine said, "It's amazing it doesn't just fly around in circles." That's right, but in fact it was flying pretty much normally.

I'm sure the segment on King5 will be quite brief, but it will be fun to see some dragonflies on TV.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Whisperer Speaks Again!

We'll be giving a presentation at 6:30 pm this evening at the Burlington Public Library in Burlington, WA. It looks like a very nice facility:







We hope to see you there!

Also, don't forget about the Dragonfly Whisperer segment on Evening Magazine this evening at 7:30 pm on Channel 5. Here's the original post:


A few weeks ago, Evening Magazine from King5 TV came to Anacortes to do an interview with the Dragonfly Whisperer. It will be aired on September 11 at 7:30 pm.





They were getting some great shots with their video equipment. They could fill the entire frame with small damselflies, and get really nice close ups of dragonflies. Here's the cameraman getting a video of me taking a picture of him (notice the reflection of my hands holding my camera in the video lens):



We filmed at Cranberry Lake, where we took videos of damselflies, and at Heart Lake, where we concentrated on dragonflies. At Heart Lake we had a nice look at a female Cardinal Meadowhawk. They got great video of the dragonfly, as well as video of me taking pictures of it. They will then intersperse some of my still shots, like this one, in the finished segment:



We also saw several Eight-spotted Skimmers, again with the video camera getting great views, as well as shots of me taking pictures of the dragonflies. Some had quite a bit of wear on their wings, like this one:



One even had an entire wing missing. I've seen ragged wings, and wings with sections missing, but this was the first time I had seen a dragonfly with one wing completely gone.



As the cameraman for Evening Magazine said, "It's amazing it doesn't just fly around in circles." That's right, but in fact it was flying pretty much normally.

I'm sure the segment on King5 will be quite brief, but it will be fun to see some dragonflies on TV.

The Whisperer Spoke!

Betsy and I gave a presentation for the La Conner Rotary Club last night at the Farmhouse Inn. We had a great time, and were given a wonderful and friendly reception by the rotarians. Thanks for your hospitality!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Whisperer Speaks Again!

I'll be giving a dragonfly talk Thursday evening at 6:30 pm at the Langely Library in the cute little town of Langely, Washington on the southern tip of Whidbey Island. Here's the library:



I hope you can join us—it should be a fun event.

Evening Magazine

A few weeks ago, Evening Magazine from King5 TV came to Anacortes to do an interview with the Dragonfly Whisperer. It will be aired on September 11 at 7:30 pm.





They were getting some great shots with their video equipment. They could fill the entire frame with small damselflies, and get really nice close ups of dragonflies. Here's the cameraman getting a video of me taking a picture of him (notice the reflection of my hands holding my camera in the video lens):



We filmed at Cranberry Lake, where we took videos of damselflies, and at Heart Lake, where we concentrated on dragonflies. At Heart Lake we had a nice look at a female Cardinal Meadowhawk. They got great video of the dragonfly, as well as video of me taking pictures of it. They will then intersperse some of my still shots, like this one, in the finished segment:



We also saw several Eight-spotted Skimmers, again with the video camera getting great views, as well as shots of me taking pictures of the dragonflies. Some had quite a bit of wear on their wings, like this one:



One even had an entire wing missing. I've seen ragged wings, and wings with sections missing, but this was the first time I had seen a dragonfly with one wing completely gone.



As the cameraman for Evening Magazine said, "It's amazing it doesn't just fly around in circles." That's right, but in fact it was flying pretty much normally.

I'm sure the segment on King5 will be quite brief, but it will be fun to see some dragonflies on TV.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Species Spotlight: Spot-winged Glider

Well, it seems only appropriate that the Spot-winged Glider should have a turn in the "spot"-light.

Betsy and I made a number of observations of this species on our recent trip to the East coast. Our first sightings were at the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge near Virginia Beach, VA. We saw many of these dragonflies at the refuge, where they were immediately identifiable by the small dark spots next to the abdomen on the hindwings. Here's a look at one:



The dark spots are small, but they're clearly visible in flight as the dragonflies zip by. Here's another look at the spots:



At Back Bay, we saw a pair in tandem dipping repeatedly as the female deposited eggs in a small mud puddle, maybe 6 feet square. The next day we returned to the same spot, to look for interesting birds, and noticed that the puddle had dried up. This species is known for laying eggs in temporary bodies of water that are free of fish, and small puddles are one example. Presumably, the eggs can survive out of water until Fall rains return to fill the puddles for a longer period of time—or perhaps this is just one example of egg laying in inappropriate locations that simply won't support the next generation.

Another example of inappropriate egg laying was observed on our second trip, this time to Cape Cod, where we again saw Spot-winged Gliders. In this case, we observed female Spot-winged Gliders laying eggs repeatedly on the hood of cars in the parking lot of a wildlife refuge. This is know behavior for this species. Presumably, the polarized reflected light from the car hoods make the females treat the surfaces as being pools of water. We saw the females make many dips onto the hoods, and a number of eggs were deposited. Here's a photo of one of the hoods. The tiny yellow spots are Spot-winged Glider eggs:



Here's a closer look at one cluster of eggs:



The dragonflies were so determined to lay eggs on the cars that they were even doing so as the cars moved about in the parking lot. I've read that in the Middle East they like to lay eggs in pools of oil, which apparently give even stronger reflections of polarized light. Lots of strange things are going on out there in our world.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Dragonflies and a Presentation in Winthrop

Betsy and I gave a dragonfly presentation last week at the Merc Playhouse in Twisp, near Winthrop, WA, for the Methow Conservancy. The presentation was well attended, and there were lots of good questions—it was a lot of fun. Thanks to all who came out on a smoky evening to learn more about dragonflies.

The next day, we led a field trip to Beaver Pond, near Sun Mountain Lodge. Later in the day we also stopped by Twin Lakes for a few additional species.

Here's a view of Beaver Pond from the wooden footbridge.

The view from the wooden footbridge at Beaver Pond near Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, WA. This is a good place to see lots of dragonflies, and to watch for the splash-dunk/spin-dry behavior. We saw a few examples during our field trip.

This is the other end of Beaver Pond. Notice the darner flying by at the top of the photo.



We saw lots of darners flying back and forth over the water. A few meadowhawks were in the bushes along the shoreline, in addition to many damselflies.

We were also fortunate to see the splash-dunk/spin-dry behavior a couple times. The footbridge is a great place to see the behavior—in fact, the spin-dry at this location is performed at eye level, making it particularly easy to observe. We had a couple good views of this rare phenomenon.

Here's our species list for the field trip:

Damselflies
Spotted Spreadwing
Northern/Boreal Bluet
Tule Bluet
Pacific Forktail
Western Forktail

Dragonflies
Paddle-tailed Darner (Happy Face)
Canada Darner
Blue-eyed Darner
Variable Darner
Striped Meadowhawk
White-faced Meadowhawk
Black Meadowhawk
Cherry-faced Meadowhawk
Eight-spotted Skimmer

At the end of the trip we encountered an interesting situation at Twin Lakes. It was a female damselfly with the abdomen of a male attached to her. What likely happened is that a dragonfly at the lake captured a pair of damselflies flying together in tandem. It then snipped off the thorax of the male for a nice snack, dropping the rest of the pair into the vegetation. Here's a detailed discussion of a similar event observed at Cranberry Lake:

http://thedragonflywhisperer.blogspot.com/2012/09/15-damselflies-darner-predation-in.html

This was truly a damsel in distress, but one of our participants kindly removed the male's abdomen, freeing the female to continue her life unencumbered.

Here's the poster advertising the talk:

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Dark Side Of Blue Dashers

On a recent trip back east, we noticed that the Blue Dashers there often have quite a bit of wing coloration—specifically, dark patches near the tip. Here are a couple examples:





In our area we only see wing coloration near the base of the wings. Interesting variability in this species.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Dot-tailed Whiteface Does A Body Slam

On a recent trip to Heart Lake here in Anacortes, I observed a new behavior exhibited by the Dot-tailed Whiteface. Here's a picture of an individual of this species from Heart Lake:



Notice the chalk-white face, black eyes, clear wings, and black body with a yellow dot near the tip of the abdomen. This is surely one of the easiest IDs to make in dragonflying.

Getting back to the behavior, I was taking a video of general dragonfly activity at the lake. When I got home and viewed the video on the computer I noticed some unusual movement in the lower right corner. On closer inspection, I saw that a bluet was harassing a Dot-tailed Whiteface, eventually grabbing its abdomen. The whiteface immediately did a spin move—similar to what dragonflies do in a spin-dry, only in this case it was "shedding" the damselfly rather than water.

Here's a video clip showing the body slam. It's grainy because it's an enlargement of the lower right corner of the full video:



You can see the full video at the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuY34erRHpY

Fascinating behavior, where the dragonfly adapts one behavior—spin-dry to shed water—to another ver different situation—spin-dry to shed a damselfly.

Find out more about the splash-dunk/spin-dry behavior, as well as about the Dot-tailed Whiteface, in my new field guide, Common dragonflies and Damselflies of the Pacific Coast. You can find the book at the following link:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1934199265/ref=s9u_simh_gw_i1?ie=UTF8&fpl=fresh&pd_rd_i=1934199265&pd_rd_r=4Q8FNWQMZKPZ7GYWQB31&pd_rd_w=c79uB&pd_rd_wg=lb3xg&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=&pf_rd_r=038QHD1N13Z2D7NWAP1Q&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=1cf9d009-399c-49e1-901a-7b8786e59436&pf_rd_i=desktop

You never know when a trip to the field will result in new behavior.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Dazzle of Damselflies

We all know about colorful names for groups of animals—like a murder of crows, or a parliament of owls. For dragonflies and damselflies, a group can be referred to as a "dazzle," which seems like an appropriate name.

At the retention pond described in the previous post we saw a dazzle of damselflies. It was a dazzle both in terms of the number of individuals, and in terms of the number of species, many of which were new to us. Here's a sampling of our damselfly observations at the pond.

First up is the Slender Bluet:



Notice the "slender" black stripe on the side of the thorax.

Along with these bluets we saw another species, the Skimming Bluet:



This species has a broader black stripe on the side of the thorax. It also has a different pattern of blue on the abdomen.

Another new bluet species for us has a name that is basically the definition of an oxymoron—the Orange Bluet:





We also saw a couple of new forktails. Here's the Fragile Forktail:



Not sure where the name comes from on this species, unless it's the "fragile" appearance of the "broken" thorax stripe that looks like an exclamation point. Also note the dark tip of the abdomen.

In addition, we saw Eastern Forktails that are very similar to the Western Forktails we see here in the West:



Notice the solid thorax stripe in this species, and the blue tip on the abdomen.

A surprise species of damselfly was the Powdered Dancer, which so far we have seen only in Arizona:



All in all, we were kept busy identifying the dazzle of damselflies at our hotel.