Yesterday I did a little detour on my way back from St-Lazare sand pits where the odeing was slow as the diversity of species dwindles. My detour, such as it was, sent me along a little track that is nominally part of Bordelais Bog in St-Lazare. The track is a good birding spot, only 100m or so long and often so bug ridden that you need a bath in Deet before venturing down it. This abundance of insects extends to odes and it is often attractive to darners.
I’ve been practicing with my net and I can now catch 80% of bluets and spreadwings, perhaps 55% of meadowhawks and about 0% of darners so far. When I got to the end of the track it was clear that I was in luck and ‘blue’ darners were out along the track and the ditches patrolling their beats, I fancied my chances of upping my darner percentage no end. Within a couple of minutes I’d bagged two darners, both of which appeared to be Canada Darner Aeshna canadensis (Aeschne du Canada) and I duly photographed them and thanked them for christening the net so to speak. I made to leave and was half way back to the car when a fast flying black insect flew past me, turned and landed about 3m away. I saw that it was a clubtail and instinct (that I didn’t know I possessed) kicked in and I swung the net for it. Unfortunately, after careful examination of the contents of the net my clubtail percentage remained at 0% and the target had fled. I spent another 45 minutes walking the same stretch, eventually flushing a clubtail type that went up and away. I knew that it had been an opportunity lost, presumably forever.
After my pits visit today I did a repeat run along the same track and this time netting five (yes five) darners, all Canada. My luck was in and I swubg abd hit a number of other species such as Cherry-faced Meadowhawk Sympetrum internum (Sympétrum intime) etc. Enduring an hour of cooking in the heat (30°C/86F) and rather stupidly hatless, I started for home when I noticed a clubtail at head height just left of me. This time I snatched the camera and took a set of photos. The lens was a 100-400 and so the depth of field not great but once I had it in the can I thought it time to try to net it. One swoosh and I had it, an Elusive Clubtail Stylurus notatus (Gomphe marqué), my second in a week. I switched to the small camera and took a number of in-hand shots (below) and had a good look at a magnificent beast before placing it back on the foliage. It sat for a few seconds before heading up around the tree tops (like they are supposed to!), then it dropped lower and settled again but out of camera reach this time.
It is possible that this was the insect that I photographed on 16-August, my home is only 250m or so away (as the clubtail flies) but the odds must be astronomical. More likely is that we have some in the area, we are not so far from either the St-Lawrence or Ottawa Rivers and that I have just been lucky in getting them within camera and net range. The whole event was sweetened even more by the arrival, briefly, of a Giant Swallowtail Papilio cresphontes (Grande porte-queue) – a life butterfly and a species that is colonising Québec.
Comments are always welcome and, if anyone wanted to ‘try’ for the clubtails I’d be happy to give directions and even meet you there, use my email address on the sidebar. Apologies if there is any yellow on my fingers in the photos – I’m not a smoker, it is either Doritos or earwax.