Our last stop of the day was the Luskville Falls parking lot where we followed the Equestrian Trail to a sunny meadow with a stream running through it. The vegetation was waist-high, but not especially dense, so we could easily cut our way through it to look around. We saw a few Northern Crescents and European Skippers in the grass, but it was the dragonflies that caught my attention. I found more immature whitefaces and some interesting dragonflies which seemed to be all red and black. I was attempting to get close to one of these dragons when I saw a clubtail land close by. Knowing that Larry was just as interested in the odonates as the butterflies, I alerted him to my find.
I wasn’t sure which species it was, and made sure to take enough pictures to be able to identify it later. In fact we figured it out later, when Larry pulled out his field guide while driving back to the city. It was a Midland Clubtail, one of the more common clubtails in the Ottawa area, though it is still listed as “scarce and local” in the 2008 checklist. I like this photo in particular as he has twisted his head almost upside-down in order to look up at the sky (his eyes are violet-gray while his “face” is yellow):
After taking several photos of the clubtail, I tried again to get close to the red and black dragonflies. Larry discovered a couple perching in the vegetation above the stream, so I waded through the grass in order to take a look. This beautiful male is a Crimson-ringed Whiteface, my second new dragonfly of the day.
This is one of our larger whitefaces (larger than the more abundant Dot-tailed Whiteface) and is quite distinctive. It has a thorax mottled with black and red, and is bright candy-apple red between the wings and at the base of the abdomen. Although similar to the Belted Whiteface, it does not develop any whitish pruinosity on its abdomen.
Then I heard Rick call out that he had a Silver-spotted Skipper. I had never seen one before so I gave up on photographing the Crimson-ringed Whiteface and hurried over to see the skipper. This is one of the larger skippers, just over an inch long, with a conspicuous silver spot on its hind wing. It perches with its wings closed, so the silver spot is very visible, and can be found in forest edges, fields and gardens.
This individual was very aggressive; it kept leaving its perch to chase similar-sized insects, even deer flies, away. When a second Silver-spotted Silver flew into its territory, we were treated to an amazing display of aerial acrobatics as the two fought for dominance.
After photographing the skipper, I made my way to the small creek, scaring up another Silver-bordered Fritillary perching in the grass.
The creek was a good five feet below the rest of the meadow, with a steep, grassy bank making access difficult. There was one spot where we could easily get down to the water and walk out onto a small island. The creek bottom and island consisted of gravel and some mud, with some vegetation growing on the island. I found this handsome dragonfly near the water and stopped to take a couple of pictures; similar to the Crimson-ringed Whiteface, the red spots all the way down the length of the abdomen identify this as a male Hudsonian Whiteface. I was happy to have finally seen a male of this species and to get some photos.
There were a good number of jewelwings with large, dark wings fluttering in the vegetation along the water’s edge. At first all I saw were Ebony Jewelwings, including a couple pairs in tandem and an ovipositing female. Then I noticed a damselfly perching on a blade of grass all by itself with the two-toned wings of a River Jewelwing.
It was neat to finally see the two jewelwings in one place, and to see so many in one spot. I was in seventh heaven trying to photograph them, and was especially pleased with this image of a female Ebony Jewelwing. I was attempting to photograph her with her wings closed, but she kept fanning her wings out every time I clicked the shutter! Nevertheless, this turned out to be my favourite photo from our stop at Luskville.
Ebony Jewelwing, female
The males have entirely black wings, lacking the white spot (called a pseudostigma) at the top of their wings.
Ebony Jewelwing, male
While Larry and I were photographing the jewelwings, I noticed a large dragonfly patrolling the section of the creek where we were standing. It would fly up the creek…..wait a few minutes….then fly back down the stream. I had left my net in the car and had no chance of catching it, nor could I even get a photo. I’ll bet it was something interesting, and will have to make it a point to return to the creek sometime in the future.
Rick was busy photographing butterflies, and called out that he had a Baltimore Checkerspot. This is one of my favourite butterflies, and a species I missed last year. I found the checkerspot, but wasn’t able to get any photos.
By then it was long past noon, and although I was curious as to where the trail led, I knew I really needed some lunch and a bathroom break. On our way back through the woods we found a couple of Little Wood Satyrs, a pair of Canada Darners, and a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail in the parking lot.
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
I had a fabulous outing with Larry and Rick, and was thrilled with everything I’d seen. It’s not a place I would visit on my own, so it was good to go with two people who knew the area. I’d definitely love to go back next year…the Elfin Skimmers, all the fritillaries, the Crimson-ringed and Hudsonian Whitefaces, and the jewelwings were worth it!