Damselflies at Hurdman

Stream Bluet

Stream Bluet

When I went to Hurdman last week, I was looking for odonates as well as birds. They are beginning to emerge now that the warm weather has arrived, and on Monday, June 2nd I saw a few Eastern Forktails as well as a Racket-tailed Emerald. Then, while watching the river from a shady spot, a jewelwing species startled me by flying right toward my face; I didn’t realize it was a damselfly at first and thought it was a wasp! For some reason, the first time I see a jewelwing in flight each season, the fluttering all-dark wings confuse me into thinking it is a different type of insect entirely. By the time I realized what it was, it had vanished. Given the entirely black wings, it was likely an Ebony Jewelwing, a species I’ve only seen at Hurdman once before.

When I returned on Friday I didn’t see the jewelwing, though I did find more forktails, including a mating pair. The male has the black and green thorax, while the female is a grayish-purple colour. They look like two different species when seen together.

Eastern Forktails

Eastern Forktails

Here is a photo of the lovely female. The tip of her abdomen is bent slightly downwards, which seems to be a common occurrence in older females.

Eastern Forktail (female)

Eastern Forktail (female)

I spent some time checking the Dame’s Rocket now that it is in bloom, hoping to find some butterflies nectaring on the flowers. It was an overcast day, however, and I didn’t see any butterflies in the large patch by the river.

Dame's Rocket

Dame’s Rocket

Dame's Rocket

Dame’s Rocket

A largish damselfly fluttering among the flowers caught my attention, and I followed it until it landed. I was surprised to identify it as a spreadwing; the shiny wings indicate that it is a teneral, which means it recently emerged from the river somewhere close by. I’ve only identified one spreadwing species at Hurdman, the Spotted Spreadwing, a species that emerges later in the summer. This meant that this was a new species for my Hurdman list.

Elegant Spreadwing

Elegant Spreadwing

It was a male, fortunately, and the shape of the claspers indicated that it was an Elegant Spreadwing! This is probably the species I least expected to find as I only know of one place where it can be found, Petrie Island. Other spreadwings (except for the Swamp Spreadwing, which I have also found only at Petrie Island) seem to be more widespread. Note how the lower claspers are longer, thinner and more rectangular than the curved upper claspers.

Elegant Spreadwing

Elegant Spreadwing

I didn’t see any Powdered Dancers, but when I returned the following week on Monday, June 9th I noticed a few had emerged. None had developed any heavy pruinosity; the males were a beautifully fresh violet colour.

Powdered Dancer

Powdered Dancer


This brown form female also let me get close enough for a photo. Females come in two colours: brown and powder blue. The brown ones always seem more striking to me.

Powdered Dancer

Powdered Dancer

I checked the patch of Dame’s Rocket by the river again and was happy when I found another spreadwing, this one a female. This photo isn’t the best, but since females are tricky to identify in the field anyway, it doesn’t matter that her head is in the shade and that you can’t see the tip of her abdomen. I’m guessing that it is a female Elegant Spreadwing since I found her in the exact same area as the male.

Spreadwing sp.

Spreadwing sp.

Several Stream Bluets had emerged as well, and I found a few males flying in the same area. This one doesn’t look as if he has attained the full deep blue colours of a mature male yet; notice that the eyes are still brownish-gray instead of blue.

Stream Bluet

Stream Bluet

I found a few more males that appeared a bit older. This one was fanning his wings which makes him look more like a spreadwing!

Stream Bluet

Stream Bluet

It was good to finally see so many different damselfly species at Hurdman. Another ode season has begun, and already I have managed to add a new species to my Hurdman list. This is one of the things that makes watching wildlife – whether it be odes, birds, butterflies, mammals or herptiles – so much fun, and so rewarding!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s