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Posts Tagged ‘damselfly’

Last week, we had a few days when it was hot, hot, hot. So much so that the temperature set a record high for the area on one or two afternoons. While the heat made it hard to work outside in the garden, it was a boon to the odonates, the dragonflies and damselflies. They have become conspicuous, flying over the pond and long grass. The damselfly, above, joined me in the garden while I was doing some weeding near the house. I recognised her right away, because I had just read a post about River Jewelwings (Calopteryx aequabilis) over at The Marvelous in Nature. As there is a little stream running close by, we have appropriate habitat for this species. While Seabrooke has captured a male, this one can be identified as a female by the white stigma visible on the wing.

I had another close encounter with an odonate in the greenhouse barn. A dragonfly had become trapped inside and needed a hand getting back outside. I have a net handy for just such occasions and the dragonfly obligingly landed on the edge of net when I held it up near him. This gave me an opportunity to get a good look at him and take a couple of photographs. I concluded that he was a Springtime Darner (Basiaeschna janata), who would usually be found flying over water.

You can tell that it is a male by the arrangement of the abdominal appendages at the tip of the abdomen. The male has two superior outer structures and a single inferior appendage in the centre, which looks cone-like from above. I gave him a lift outside and he was last seen continuing on his way to the pond.

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pondreflection

Reflection

The other day, I walked down to the pond to see what the inhabitants were up to. As soon as I got there, I turned around and walked back to the house, because I was greeted by a horde of deer flies. I put on a sweatshirt, even though it was a warm day, to save swatting at my arms. Back at the pond, I took stock of who was out and about.

bluetpairs

Along the shore, dozens of bluets were zipping back and forth and perching on vegetation along the edge of the water. Many pairs were flying in tandem, or were forming a copulation wheel, the position in which the male transfers a packet of sperm to the female.

bluetpair2

You know that “I’m being watched” feeling? Down by the pond, you don’t have to be paranoid to believe that many eyes are watching you. A lot of those eyes belong to frogs. As I walked along the shore, every few yards a large frog would leap into the pond before my advance. Many more simply rested in the water and watched from a safe distance. The pond is home to a sizable population of Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) and a fewer number of Green frogs (Rana clamitans). One charismatic character seemed to have a Mona Lisa smile:

pondsmilingfrog

Another was floating in a relaxed posture as if enjoying a day at the beach…which I guess he was!

pondfloatingfrog

This big fellow sang a few bars of his throbbing love song for me. Well, maybe I wasn’t the female he had in mind…

pondbullfrog

Along the shore, schools of tiny fish fry and minnows swam by.

pondfish

The vegetation, both in the water and along the edges is full and luxuriant. There is plentiful pondweed (Potamogeton sp.) to provide cover for floating frogs and little fish. Along the shore, Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) adds a touch of colour.

pondswampmilkweed

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birdsancsign

We have had a lot of overcast, rainy days this spring, but Wednesday was a beautiful day. I took advantage of the sunny weather to visit the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary, located east of Morrisburg along the St. Lawrence River. The Sanctuary was established in 1961, on 9,000 hectares acquired by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission following the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway. It features a mix of habitats including mature forest, successional woodlands, old fields and wetlands.

birdsanccentre

The Sanctuary offers outdoor education programs and includes a campground. The small interpretive centre has a store with a selection of guide books and giftware. It was quiet the day I was there, waiting, no doubt for the busier season to get underway once the kids are finished school in July.

birdsanctrail

There are four walking trails, with pamphlets available to help visitors enjoy a self-guided hike. I followed this well-groomed trail out through wetlands and open water to the former location of the Lost Village of Aultsville.

birdsancmarsh

While walking in the park, I saw or heard a variety of birds, including a Baltimore Oriole, Wood Thrush, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and cormorants out by the river.

birdsancdragon

There were quite a few of these Dot-tailed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta) dragonflies along the walkway. They are members of the Skimmer family of dragonflies, which includes more than a hundred species in North America. They are often seen perched on floating vegetation. Females lay their eggs in flight by tapping the water surface with the tip of their abdomen.

birdsancbluet

Bluets are common damselflies. You can see the way these damselflies fold their wings over their back while perched, in contrast to the spread-winged posture of dragonflies. There are at least 35 species of bluets in North America, and telling species apart is challenging. This may be a Northern Bluet (Enallagma cyathigerum), which are noted for their large blue eyespots.

birdsancsilveryblue2

There were a number of little blue butterflies flitting about. When they come to rest on a flower, they fold their wings over their back, thus concealing the silvery blue that makes them eye-catching in flight. This is a Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus). Their larval foodplants are lupines, vetches and other legumes.

commonringlet

Common Ringlets (Coenonympha tullia) were also flying along the trail. Ringlets are associated with grasses, which are their larval food. They are attracted to yellow flowers in the composite family, such as ox-eye daisies, for nectaring.

birdsancviceroy

The Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) looks like a small Monarch butterfly. It can be readily differentiated by its smaller size and by the black line that runs across the bottom of the lower, or hind wing, lacking in the Monarch. The larvae of Monarchs feed mostly on milkweeds. Chemicals derived from the milkweed make Monarchs very distasteful to most predators. It was once believed that the Viceroy was a Monarch mimic so that it might take advantage of this predator protection scheme, but it is now thought the Viceroy is equally distasteful to predators. The larval food for the Viceroy is willow species.

Below is a view of the St. Lawrence from the trail.

birdsancriver

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