Finally Emerged

Down here in the Banana Belt of Nova Scotia the weather may be overall kinder but the odonatan certainly seem to take their time getting onto the wing. Naturally I have kept an eye out for odes, since the middle of May really, but it has been slow but at least I can fill the gaps with birds.

An Eastern Forktail kicked off my year, they were recently out at French Basin Trail in Annapolis Royal and are almost the default first. I did see a dragonfly at nearby Belleisle Marsh but it kept going rather than sit and be famous, such is odei ng. A trip along the Wentworth Lake Road, it runs from Jordan River off highway 103 and just keeps going, found us enjoying Hudsonian Whiteface in some abundance. They were not very near the track so I only got a doc-shot. Star of the outing was one of a number of Stream Cruisers. The one below sat patiently while I stalked it, they usually do.

We probably flashed past a few interesting odes, I’ve threatened to affix a cradle to the front of the car so Sandra can drive and I can net, at speed! We certainly saw a few Lancet Clubtails, again fairly default as an early season ode. Most of the wet areas also had Uhler’s Sundragon, never landing and always just out of net range, still at least the ticks got some exercise as they started their hastily curtailed journeys up our legs! Time to get the leech socks out for sure.

While doing some garden tidying I came across a Four-spotted Skimmer today (25-May, 208) and was surprised to find it was a Cape Sable Island tick and a not unexpected addition to the yard list. I hope to get out odeing more this summer, I noted many places of the course of the winter that show promise so do pop back if odes are your thing.

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Hopes and Odes for 2018

Hello and welcome to 2018. While it is a tad early to be seeing any odes in Nova Scotia, that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate on what might be found in the coming (eventually!) season. My NS odeing remains in its infancy, but 2018 will be the year when I get a bit more done. I’ll be restricting my activities to the tri-counties of Shelburne-Yarmouth-Digby but there is plenty to go at there and I can hardly do worse than I did in 2017. There were mitigating circumstances, different from those in 2016 but mitigating all the same. Subsequently I only added one new species, Mantled Baskettail, to my life list.

So I thought I’d use some of my stock photos (taken mostly in Quebec) to offer up my list of top ten hopes to find in NS in 2018. Some are realistic, some fanciful, but you have to have ambitions otherwise why get out of bed. I am hoping to buy a boat, something I can use to get out into the lakes and streams with, getting me close to the action and not drawing those stares we get from passers-by, you know the ones, when you are chasing a fast flying ode with the net and just catching fresh air! I also plan to build a pond in the yard on the ‘build it and they will come’ principle. We’ve always had ponds at our past homes and now is the time to get one here, nothing too fancy but something that might pull in a few species.

Looking down my list of NS wants, I’m surprised that I’ve not come across many of them already, lots of them were very regular in my last odeing patch but, a different climate, geology and flora means there will be differences in range and abundance, it is all part of the ode learning curve. The wants list is not exhaustive, but you have to start somewhere.

My spreadwing  selection in NS is not great, mostly through lack of effort, so I’l be looking for the following: Spotted Spreadwing, Southern Spreadwing, Amber-winged Spreadwing, Sweetflag Spreadwing, Slender Spreadwing, Swamp Spreadwing. Below is an Amber-winged Spreadwing, a species of ephemeral pools

 

I have plenty of bluet room too: Subarctic Bluet, Taiga Bluet, Sedge Sprite, Eastern Red Damsel, Boreal Bluet, Vernal Bluet, Orange Bluet, Vesper Bluet, Citrine Forktail. A bit of diligent searching should get me the illustrated species, Sedge Sprite and Orange Bluet.

 

There are some great darners yet to be seen by me in NS, some may be very rare but all are worth looking for: Spatterdock Darner, Mottled Darner, Lance-tipped Darner, Variable Darner, Azure Darner, Zigzag Darner, Subarctic Darner, Black-tipped Darner, Green-striped Darner, Cyrano Darner, Ocellated Darner, Fawn Darner. This is a Variable Darner.

 

We have plenty of clubtails to go at in NS, I’ve found a few and hope to get a few more in 2018: Black-shouldered Spinyleg, Spine-crowned Clubtail, Skillet Clubtail, Moustached Clubtail, Beaverpond Clubtail, Harpoon Clubtail, Dusky Clubtail, Zebra Clubtail, Northern Pygmy Clubtail, Eastern Least Clubtail, Extra-striped Snaketail, Brook Snaketail, Riffled Snaketail, Maine Snaketail, Delta-spotted Spiketail. Here is a Black-shouldered Spinyleg and a Maine Snaketail. Here are shots of Black-shouldered Spinyleg, Eastern Least Clubtail and Maine Snaketail.

 

I’ve been happily surprised at the number of emeralds, baskettails and the like  already seen in NS Wants are: American Emerald, Racket-tailed Emerald, Beaverpond Baskettail, Spiny Baskettail, Broad-tailed Shadowdragon, Ringed Emerald, Quebec Emerald, Lake Emerald, Ski-tipped Emerald, Forcipate Emerald, Delicate Emerald, Kennedy’s Emerald, Ocellated Emerald, Muskeg Emerald, Williamson’s Emerald , Ebony Boghunter, Swift River Cruiser. Here is an Ocellated Emerald:

 

Of the rest of the species on the NS list, I have plenty of gaps: Elfin Skimmer, Martha’s Pennant, Frosted Whiteface, Hudsonian Whiteface, Canada Whiteface, Chalk-fronted Corporal, Widow Skimmer, Ruby Meadowhawk, Jane’s Meadowhawk?, Saffron-winged Meadowhawk, Black Meadowhawk, Band-winged Meadowhawk, Variegated Meadowhawk, Carolina Saddlebags: Here are shots of the superb Elfin Skimmer, Widow Skimmer and a Variegated Meadowhawk.

 

I am aware that some of the wants are just vagrants to NS but then I found plenty of vagrants in QC so why not here.? This is a Comet Darner that I found in QC.

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High Water

In the course of a recent visit to Halifax (July-20th) we happened past the LeHave River at the Cooksville Regional Park, Lunenburg Co., where we had seen Rusty Snaketail last year. Hoping for similar it was disappointing to find the water very high and not too much on the rocks, or at least on the area visible from the parks trail. There was some activity though, perhaps the best ode being the quite numerous Slaty Skimmer. A few posed in areas I could reach, too close at times for my big lens.

 

The rocks and margins had species typical of the habitat, such as these Stream Bluets.

 

Powdered Dancers were plentiful.

 

I only saw one pair of Variable Dancers though.

 

This female River Jewelwing was a bit distant and the shot affected by heat haze.

 

This female jewelwing (below) Derek Bridgehouse thinks is a Superb. Excellent, I have very little experience of them, thanks very much for the ID Derek.

 

The only other odes on show were the ubiquitous Spot-winged Glider and patrolling Dragonhunters.

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Back to Quinn’s Falls Rd, Shelburne Co

For various reasons I have not had much odeing opportunities recently, so today I got out and about and managed to add a few species to my meagre year list, one of which was also new for my NS life list.

Most of my focus was along Quinn’s Falls Road, essentially right at the end where the river has a cut and there is always some ode action to enjoy. As usual the log jam between river and cut was busy, mostly with Ebony Jewelwings having constant disagreements with everything. I was actually looking for River Jewelwing which are regular there but nothing doing and the track to the river edge where they favour is messy with a fallen tree. The Ebony was easy enough to catch though.

In the margins many Stream Bluets stuttered around while on the tracks both Powdered and Variable, although I prefer Violet Dancers jigged.

 

A regular feature of the spot is an ongoing melee between various fast-flying species. Sometimes Stream Cruiser is involved and sometimes Lancet Clubtail. A swish of then new got me this one.

 

A second swish produced an unexpected ode, perhaps more through lack of experience of the species than actual scarcity. I knew once I had it netted that it was more interesting than the clubtails and so it proved, my first in-hand Uhler’s Sundragon.

 

There was a general lack of large odes, I did see a couple of Dragonhunters going about their business and a darner sp., that I would have liked a decent view of.

The outlook is for good weather and so perhaps I can finally settle down and get some consistency to the odeing. All species were photographed only, and then released and I reported them via Odonata Central http://www.odonatacentral.org/

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Old Hay Road, Barrington

Just a few days after my first ode, they are now out in force and now is the time to take advantage of the abundance of the earlier emerging species, some won’t last long. There are a couple I have been hoping for with Ebony Boghaunter amongst the priorities but no luck with that one so far. We do have seemingly suitable areas locally although access is usually limited to the adjacent tracks.

One spot I thought might produce is Old Hay Road in Barrington, although we just call it Barrington Lake Road. It runs from Barrington in Shelburne Co off River Road and through to Barrington Lake. The road is a bit rough and some clearance is needed although I got my Grand Caravan up there easily enough. On the way up to the lake there is a good bit of river, a few trackside boggy pools and some temporary pools of standing water, likely soon to be dust.

I went up there with Mike MacDonald and we had some success with a few species although few were inclined to land, hence the in-hand shot of the Twin-spotted Spiketail. Mike has yet to be bitten by odes, metaphorically speaking, but it may yet happen.

Our species list for the morning, although modest, shows the potential of the site and further examination is required to give a full evaluation of the species present. Fortunately it is very handy for us here on Cape Sable Island so it will get a good looking at. It looks a good spot to explore by Kayak!

The Species:

Eastern Forktail

Green Darner

Lancet Clubtail

Twin-spotted Spiketail

Stream Cruiser

Mantled Baskettail

To access Old Hay Road, take River Road at the Shell gas station on the Oak Park Connector. On the left before the small cemetery is a track with a stop sign, turn here. Continue 300m then go right on a small track, again with a stop sign. There is a place to park by the river and odes can be seen from the bridge. Continue along the track for approx. 4.5km to a boat launch at Barrington Lake, n-route there are several obvious spots worth examining. Beware of ticks.

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Mantled Baskettail

I knew they had to be out there but, so far, I’d not found my lifer Mantled Baskettail until today on a trip up the Wentworth Lake Road at Jordan Falls. The road is in pretty good condition and the recent rains have made lots of small roadside pools to investigate. We did 20km each way, only turning when the road got a bit rocky and the heat brought on lethargy.

The first bunch of odes were Crimson-ringed Whiteface, busily chasing each other around and settling on regular perches, a bit far out for good shots. Small darner types kept flushing off the track all along the road and we soon got good looks at Harlequin Darner, none of them were inclined to settle but they are an easy identification.

While trying to catch a Harlequin Darner, I snagged a smaller ode and it was obvious in the net that it was a male Mantled Baskettail. After in-hand photos I tried for a few natural shots but it insisted on settling on me instead of the attractive vegetation.

At one point the car had a little swarm of baskettails around it and I netted this single female Mantled Baskettail.

We put up many clubtails off the road, most of them likely Lancet like the one below although one larger insect (bottom image) only gave me head-on views before clearing off. It was probably a fifth bigger than the Lancets nearby and the only NS options seem to be Beaverpond or Mustached, neither of which seem to fit. Additional – it has been suggested that the unidentified clubtail is in fact a Harlequin Darner. I agree, I was thrown by the down-curved abdomen and only had brief views. Thanks for the comment Martin Reuven

The only White Corporal seen was this young male, still developing his summer plumage.

We did four hours searching and, although the list is not huge, it was good to get back amongst the Blackflies looking for odes again.

Species seen on Wentworth Lake Road June 11th 2017:

Aurora Bluet

Harlequin Darner

Lancet Clubtail

Mantled Baskettail

White Corporal, one.

Crimson-ringed Whiteface

Spot-winged Glider, one

Whiteface sp. Probably Belted.

As always, comments regarding the identification of any of the odes here is welcome. We lack a truly definitive guide to ode identification and so the identification is often made from a numbers of references.

To find Wentworth Lake Road, leave Jordan Falls, Shelburne Co on highway 103 going south. Approximately 750m after the bridge over the river, in fact where the speed limit changes to 100kmph, there is a road/track going north (with a stop sign). The most ode activity seemed to be at the 15km+ mark.

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About Time!

I did see a dragonfly species right at the end of May, but it zapped away before I had even a fraction of a second on it and it was lost. Since then I have been looking wherever I’ve been. Sunny glades, sheltered lanes, woodland rides. Finally, on June-7th, my first ode of the season, a Lancet Clubtail. It was on Frotton Road, a top birding lane in the Quinan, Yarmouth County area that seems to be in the process of being sold off and developed. The ode in question only lingered a while but long enough for an ID if not a photo.

Today, June-1th I finally got to see some odes, well two species, which I thought remarkable given that we got drenched by 50mm of rain yesterday, out of the cold east too. Today’s fare might have been meagre but it is a start. I saw one Green Darner and it seemed intent on giving the five or so Four-spotted Skimmers a hard time, or perhaps it was they who were being belligerent. I got a photo of the skimmer, when one finally deigned to land for a few seconds. I stood for a while to try for flight shots of the darner but it wasn’t having any.

 

The season will get better, more odes will appear and hopefully I’ll get to see a few and one or two might even be new, now we are off on the 2017 ode season, about time too!

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