First Dragonfly Photo!

Springtime Darner

On Monday I went back to Hurdman Park during my lunch hour. There were even fewer migrants around than there had been on Friday; the only non-breeding birds I saw were a single Yellow-rumped Warbler in the trees beside the river and a couple of White-throated Sparrows foraging in the woods. Everywhere I went I could hear the songs of American Goldfinches, Song Sparrows, Warbling Vireos, Yellow Warblers, and American Redstarts; I saw a pair of Baltimore Orioles chasing each other and at least three Cedar Waxwings sitting in a tree. New arrivals included Gray Catbird and Red-eyed Vireo, both of which were singing and both of which I managed to see. I was surprised that the Eastern Kingbirds hadn’t arrived yet, especially after seeing a pair at the Beaver Trail on Saturday. This is the only regular breeding bird that hasn’t shown up yet at Hurdman.

The insects were much more varied. Once again the small open area at the entrance to the feeder path proved to be the most interesting spot. A few blue butterflies were flitting about, and given the size difference I suspected two species were present. The larger ones were likely Silvery Blues, and I thought the smaller ones were Spring Azures until I got a look at one through the binoculars and realized it was an Eastern-Tailed Blue instead. The butterflies spent more time flying than perched on the vegetation, so I wasn’t able to get any photos…they are much more approachable when it is still cool, and the temperature by then had already reached 25°C! I also saw a single duskywing in the area, most likely a Dreamy Duskywing based on the brief look I got. Red Admirals, of course, kept flying by and a couple of Cabbage Whites were also present.

I saw these white flowers growing in the area and realized I had never seen them before. I showed this photo to a friend of mine who advises that this flower is a garden plant (non-native) sold in nurseries. How it ended up at Hurdman is a mystery!


Near the river, a pair of Wood Ducks were sitting on a tree branch extending out over the water and a Double-crested Cormorant was swimming in the distance. I was looking for damselflies as well, but so far none have emerged. I had just about given up on seeing any odonates when I caught sight of a large blue Common Green Darner patrolling the riverbank. A few minutes later, I saw a smaller dragonfly patrolling the area where the two bike paths intersected. This one struck me as being mottled in appearance, although I wasn’t sure if it was a darner or not…I had seen Springtime Darners here the previous two years, though not as early as this. (The earliest date I had seen one was May 25 in 2009, a full eleven days after the date of this sighting.) The only other possibility that came to mind was Beaverpond Baskettail, a species that is already on the wing though I had never seen one at Hurdman before. I suspected its identity would remain a mystery.

Then, shortly after I had returned to the open area at the entrance to the feeder path to photograph the butterflies I noticed a small dragonfly zipping around. It landed, and I was able to confirm its identity….it was in fact a Springtime Darner! Unlike the Common Green Darners which migrate here in the early spring from their breeding grounds in the south, this Springtime Darner had spent its entire life cycle here in this area, from egg to nymph to adult, and would have emerged within the past couple of days.

Springtime Darner

I saw the duskywing again, and more blues, but none of them were in the mood to have their picture taken. Then I spotted this tiny orange lepidopteran flying just above the grass and tried to track it down. It was about the size of the elfins I had been chasing on Saturday, and I wasn’t sure if it was a moth or a butterfly. Then it landed (briefly) and I saw that it was in fact a crescent…one of the tiniest I had ever seen!

Pearl Crescent

Given that most of the crescent sightings so far have been of Pearl Crescents rather than Northern Crescents, I asked Ross Layberry to confirm my suspicion that this, too, was a Pearl. He did, making this another new butterfly species for my Hurdman list! I went back to work feeling quite content with my outing. A new butterfly for my Hurdman list and the first non-migrant dragonfly helped to make it a great one!


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