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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Still Flying

Sandra and I took a short walk along the Shelburne, NS Municiple Trail 9/21/16. It was hot and there was still a bit of ode activity. The highlight was a male Incurvate Emerald that hawked a small area ravaged by off-road bikes for a while. We probably saw three different insects in the heat of the day and, naturally, none of them would land. In such cases the only answer is to switch to manual focus, up the ISO to 400 and the aperture to 7.1 and take the photo of it flying. I tend to focus on the regular range of the insect first and then wait for it to come past on its beat. Once it look sharp I rapid fire while continually tweaking the focus. Normally at least one shot is gives you something to identify it with and occasionally one is good enough to use.

img_4098 Also along the route were many Autumn Meadowhawks, the males are in territory. img_4103

The section of trail we walked, adjacent to Brass Hill and accessed from Wireless Station Road, Barrington, looks pretty good for odes and I’ve marked it for more thorough attention next year. I suspect I won’t get many more ode shots this year now but you never know, perhaps there are a few more surprises lurking in deepest Shelburne County still to discover

 

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Autumn Then

My odeing has been fairly limited recently, although I did spend time trying, and failing, to get shots of an emerald species in the yard recently. It looked like a Clamp-tipped but never settled quite long enough to be sure, it was in a gusty breeze which might have put it off trying to hang on to a lively twig. One species that did show was Autumn Meadowhawk. The one in the shots was my first of the year, I’m not sure of the regular dates here in Nova Scotia but in Quebec I started seeing my first of the year in August, not really autumn.

This one is a female and they are delightfully easy to identify. The legs are yellow, or yellowish, so there is your first clue and they have the upside down sharks fin at the end of the thorax, the only meadowhawk that shows this. They also tend to be a lot tamer than other meadowhawks, even I could have caught this one had I so desired.

img_9246 img_9250

 

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Winding Down

September already and the ode season is winding down somewhat. For me it is bird migration time, but also ode migration time and so the net stays in the car a bit longer in the hope of encountering a darner swarm. Generally all I’m seeing around Cape Sable Island now are meadowhawk species (Ruby/Cherry-faced), with a few Green Darners passing through. Recently I was on Sandy Cove Road near Halifax and there were lots of darners working the roadsides, unfortunately they all seemed to be one species, Shadow Darner.

It was pretty gloomy, fog had held all day and it was warm and muggy. The darners were systematically working a route, a beat, and so I placed myself in the way and kept swishing the net until I got one. Here is the in-hand shot showing the thoracic stripes, Shadow Darner is one of the easier ones to identify. I thoughts I’d also throw up an old plate I made with darner sides, I have a better one but can’t remember where I got it so, for now, you’ll have to make do with my home-made version.

p1090239 darner-plate

I don’t expect there to be too many more posts here this year, next year I plan to focus on a few species I have yet to see and to keep searching the local area (around CSI and the Tri-Counties) blogging what I find.

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Local Emeralds

I’ve been meaning to investigate a local spot for odes, a place that I bird regularly. Today I did and this time I was armed with my net, normally a cumbersome appendage that I miss dragonflies with, today (8/23/16) I was more successful. The trail is on Cape Sable Island, Shelburne Co, and is known as the Cripple Creek Beach Trail. Essentially it is just a rough path to Clam Point beach from Cripple Creek Wharf. It has a barachois pool and several tidal pools. Previous visits had seen me frustrated by inexhaustible darners, today I was earlier in the day and lucked in with a couple of emeralds and photographed a darner.

Emeralds can be tricky to identify, mainly because we have no illustrated guide along the Peterson line, instead we have mainly a collection of photographic guides which often fail to quite capture the insect you are looking at. Luckily the emeralds I found today have diagnostic appendages, although, even then you have to double-check everything.

The first insect I caught was a male Incurvate Emerald. It hung on a trail side branch long enough to photograph, then a swish had it in the net and being photographed in the hand. This is the first male I’ve ever seen following a recent female over our house (nearby), see previous posts for details.

Incurvate Emerald male 3 Incurvate Emerald male (2) A little further on this darner clung to a branch and was far enough away not to flush. Seeing the side of the thorax is the key to most darner identification. The thoracic stripes are pretty clear here and make the identification of Shadow Darner easy.

 Shadow Darner m (4) Shadow Darner m (5)

In another area of the trail I was trying to catch Seaside Dragonlets, several of which were around ATV (All Terrain Vehicles or awful toerag vandals, your choice) damaged saltmarsh. I did get a female (here) but then got distracted by a hawking emerald sp.

 Seaside Dragonlet female

This female Clamp-tipped Emerald made several passes before landing where I could creep up on it. I again got photos before swinging the net, my net-work is less than stellar but getting better. The abdomen tip is diagnostic here.

Clamp-tipped Emerald female 2 (1) Clamp-tipped Emerald female (2) Clamp-tipped Emerald female (1) 

I’d only encountered one Clamp-tipped Emerald anywhere before this one, so it was especially pleasing to see, photograph and net it.

Other species recorded on the ramble were: White-faced Meadowhawk; Green Darner; Wandering Glider; Spot-winged Glider; Twelve-spotted Skimmer; Ruby/Cherry-faced Meadowhawk and a bluet sp, probably Familiar.

 

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