A visit to The Cape, the island off Cape Sable Island, Shelburne Co is always a pleasure. We go there for the birding but, as an odeist I have eyes on the odes too. In July we get large numbers of Spot-winged Gliders coming through on migration, as well as a much smaller number of Wandering Gliders. I hoped being on The Cape might give me some photo ops for the spot-wings, no habitations to hide in and an open vista allows you to track the insects.
I had been trying for flight shots but background ‘noise’ meant that I had only limited success. As I was heading for the boat pick-up I noticed one spot-wing returning to a bush at roughly the same spot, so I waited. Sure enough it pitched down and I was able to stalk it, although getting a photo was a challenge in the increasing breeze. Happy that I had a few shots I pulled the camera back and saw a small, blue dragonfly about half a metre to the left of the spot-wing, interesting.
Not a great flight photo but it does show the distinctive glider shape. PS – I added three new shots.
The male Blue Dasher – not very big, under 28-41mm
I instantly knew the insect was a Blue Dasher, a male, and set about getting some photos. It never moved but the vegetation did so I had to be happy with what I got. Back home I checked Dennis Paulson’s Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East, noting that Nova Scotia did not seem to have any Blue Dashers. I posted on the Halifax Field Naturalists Nova Scotia Nature Archive FB group page and got the following back from Clarence Stevens who also quotes Jim Edsal, thanks for the info Clarence:
I don’t know much about this species Mark but I know it has been photographed in Nova Scotia on at least a couple of occasions including once in 2013 and another in 2014. Jim Edsel, had the following to say about his experience: 21 Jul 2013 – “This afternoon I saw and later photographed a female Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) in my backyard in the center of Dartmouth. To the best of my knowledge, (and I invite anyone who knows differently to weigh in), this is the first record of this species in Nova Scotia. I don’t know if this species migrates or if this is a sign of a breeding population”. Another photograph of female Blue Dasher was taken by Rita Viau, July 20, 2014 also in Dartmouth. Checking my own personal records I see I got my lifer Blue Dasher, also in Dartmouth on July 31, 2004. I also remember a Halifax Field Naturalist trip where several of us got a good look at a Blue Dasher but I don’t recall the details. Being that Dartmouth is pretty far away from the South Shore or from the New Brunswick border I suspect that Blue Dashers may be here as more than just a stray.
So The Cape insect is not a new species for NS but likely new for the South Shore and certainly new for the embryonic Cape Sable Island checklist of Odonata, which will be included in ‘The Birds of Cape Sable Island with notes from the Barrington Area’, when published.