Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Last Dragonflies of the Year

November has arrived and as expected there have already been a few days with a bit of wet snow and the temperature dropping below freezing at night, but Mother Nature was in a good mood on the 11th and the weather was sunny with the temperature hitting the 16°C mark. Warm enough that eleven male and twelve female Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum) – including one tandem pair – were flying at a marsh about ½ kilometer west of Tweed (44.46889°, -77.31528°).

The latest local dragonfly I have encountered was a male Autumn Meadowhawk (what else?) on November 18th, 2009, but we experienced an exceptionally warm autumn that year. This year the weather is conforming to seasonal norms and the long range forecast calls for much cooler weather, so these will probably be the last dragonflies of 2014. (The last fliers, there are still lots of naiads under the ice for those who care to go and search for them rather than waiting until next summer.)

No other odonates made it into November but a few came fairly close, here are the runners-up for 2014:

Spotted Spreadwing (Lestes congener)
– three males, one female, October 27th, 2014
Lance-tipped Darner (Aeshna constricta)
– an old male, October 25th, 2014
Common Green Darner (Anax junius)
– one female, October 23th, 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Picturesque Patch of Mysterious Moss

It's been about a year since I stumbled across a large patch of distinctive and striking moss growing along the bank of a woodland stream located near the intersection of the Sulphide Road and the trans-Canada Trail (44.494167°, -77.285556°).

Last autumn I was unable to identify the baffling Bryophyte, but today I decided to give it another shot and came up with a name for the mystery moss ...

Common Smoothcap Moss (Atrichum undulatum)

This sand-bottomed stream appears to be something of a unique habitat. To date, it's the only place I've encountered Common Smoothcap Moss and Christmas Fern, and it's one of three local sites where Arrowhead Spiketails are known to breed.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Checklist of the Odonata of south-central Hastings County

An unofficial checklist, the picture will be rounded out when the NHIC's new Ontario Odonata Atlas goes online. The warmer months of 2014 have seen seven additions to last year's list of the Dragonflies and Damselflies of south-central Hastings County, bringing the total count for this area of Ontario up to 86 species. In chronological order ...

(1) Northern Bluet (Enallagma annexum), male
May 27, 2014
Trans-Canada Trail, east of Tweed
44.48083°, -77.29861°
Abundant, plenty of other males and females were sighted and it appears that this odonate has a bimodal flight season, flying in spring and again in late summer

(2) Stygian Shadowdragon (Neurocordulia yamaskanensis), male
May 31, 2014
East of Tweed – Moira River, the Point
44.47694°, -77.30194°
A total of two adults and some exuviae were encountered

(3) Rusty Snaketail (Ophiogomphus rupinsulensis), male
Observed and photographed by J. King
June 15, 2014
Lost Channel Road bridge over Moira River, near Paradise Lane
44.38019°, -77.31537°

(4) Delta-spotted Spiketail (Cordulegaster diastatops), female
June 26, 2014
Victoria Street in downtown Tweed
44.47472°, -77.31028°
Sad to say, this individual was roadkill

(5) Eastern Least Clubtail (Stylogomphus albistylus), female
July 31, 2014
Tweed – Moira River shoreline, between the bridges at Bridge St. (the dam) and Louisa St.
44.479167°, -77.310762°
A male was photograhed a week later at the Vanderwater Conservation Area

(6) Forcipate Emerald (Somatochlora forcipata), male
August 11, 2014
East Hungerford Road – the Stoco Fen
44.467126°, -77.235450°

(7) Lake Darner (Aeshna eremita), male
September 15, 2014
A marsh west of Tweed
44.46889°, -77.31528°
Another male and a female were encountered east of Tweed a few days later

A friend photographed a Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata) and an uncommon color form of a Four-spotted Skimmer (Libellula quadrimaculata praenubila), both encounters occurred in early June west of Eldorado.

Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata), male
Photo by T. Mapes

Four-spotted Skimmer (Libellula quadrimaculata praenubila), male
Photo by T. Mapes

A couple of dragonflies that haven't been around since 2009 returned for an encore. In early September three Mottled Darners (Aeshna clepsydra) were observed patrolling along the north shore of Stoco Lake. Two Saffron-winged Meadowhawks (Sympetrum costiferum) were encountered at Dry Lake near Marlbank in late August, a month later another a female S. costiferum was seen foraging in a patch of wildflowers near the intersection of the trans-Canada Trail and Lakeview Lane.

Although generally considered to be uncommon the Arrowhead Spiketail (Cordulegaster obliqua) can be found in this part of the county on a regular basis. During the month of June one female and two males were spotted at the sand-bottomed woodland stream where Spiketail naiads (and lots of them!) were discovered last year. And although no adults were observed three large Cordulegaster naiads were also found in a stream a couple of kilometers further east.

The Slender Bluets (Enallagma traviatum westfalli) of Stoco Lake have certainly been fruitful and multiplying, with over fifty encountered between June 26th and September 10th. These damselflies were likely flying earlier in the season as the first one sighted appeared to be at least one week old.

On the negative side a couple of expected (albeit uncommon) "regulars" – the Swift River Cruiser (Macromia illinoiensis illinoiensis) and the Azure Bluet (Enallagma aspersum) – were a no-show. Maybe next year ...