Algonquin Part VI: Return to the Whiskey Rapids Trail

The 27th of July was our last day in the park. I was sad to be leaving, and after Doran and I had our breakfast we quickly broke down our camp and packed everything in the car. My Dad still had to pack up his site and stow everything securely in the trailer, so Doran and I went back to the Whiskey Rapids Trail. As we were there earlier in the day the biting insects weren’t so bad, and the light was much better for photography by the time we reached the rapids. This time I brought my net to catch some dragonflies.


We proceeded down the steep slope directly to the river. This time I took a few pictures of the water before heading to the gravel sandbar where I’d had such good luck on our previous visit. This is a large pool in a bend in the river that looks as if it would be the perfect “swimming hole” if the water levels were higher.

Oxtongue River

Once again Doran and I walked out onto the sandbar to watch the dragonflies. I was standing in the middle of it when I took this photo looking upstream. This time I didn’t see any Zebra Clubtails zipping up and down the waterway; perhaps it was too early in the day for this species. I didn’t see any Swift River Cruisers either, although I noticed a couple of darners patrolling the river.

Dragonfly Habitat

Doran noticed a brownish dragonfly perching in a tree on the sandbar, but when I walked toward it, it flew up high into the conifers on the other side of the river. I kept my eyes open for the Rusty Snaketail, and saw two of them perching on a fallen tree trunk on the opposite side of the river. It was getting hot, so I took my socks off, put my shoes back on, and waded out into the water to get close enough to photograph them. As it was a new species for me, I wanted some better photos – especially since I wasn’t able to photograph the Zebra Clubtail.

Rusty Snaketail

I was able to get close enough to get a few macro shots; although it flew off a couple of times, it always returned to the same fallen tree. I particularly like this photo because of the colour of the reflections on the water:

Rusty Snaketail

The only other dragonfly I saw along the sandbar was a blue mosaic darner, but it never landed as far as I could tell. A few bluets were skimming over the water, and Doran found an Ebony Jewelwing perching on the leaf of a tree.

Ebony Jewelwing

The trail really was quite beautiful; with so few birds or dragonflies around I spent most of my time photographing the scenery.

The Oxtongue River

Along the trail

Then I saw this beautiful stinkbug sitting on a leaf; it was quite cooperative as I took a couple of pictures from only a few centimeters away.

Stinkbug sp.

I saw a spreadwing damselfly in the vegetation next to the trail in the same area and netted it, but it flew out before I could get a good hold of it. The spreadwings are one of my favourite groups of damselflies, but that was the only one I saw on the entire trip.

A little further along we came across this caterpillar ambling along the boardwalk. After taking its photo, I moved him to a safer place.

Caterpillar sp.

The rapids were beautiful by daylight. With the water level so low it was easy to walk out into the river along the rocks. I was hoping to find some Powdered Dancers or perhaps an Eastern Least Clubtail – both of which can be found here according to my field guide – perching on the rocks, but the only odonate I saw was the massive Dragonhunter.

The Whiskey Rapids

This is a beautiful dragonfly when viewed up close. Like many of our clubtails, it has jade green eyes which are widely spaced.

Dragonhunter

I was trying to get a few pictures of it from the top when it suddenly darted out in pursuit of another dragonfly. Its intended prey disappeared down the river, but the Dragonhunter came back to perch on a rock further out in the rapids.

Dragonhunter

This is a truly beautiful place and well worth the 2.1 kilometer walk. Upstream, the river is sluggish and tranquil; at the rapids, the water churns over the rocks. I can only imagine how the rapids look when the water levels are much higher.

Looking up the river

The Whiskey Rapids

We didn’t see any of the dark dragonflies in the woods on our way back to the parking lot, probably because there weren’t too many mosquitoes or biting bugs flying yet. Although I was sad to be leaving the Whiskey Rapids Trail and Algonquin Park, this is definitely a place I’d like to return to next summer to look for more odonates.

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