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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!