The Last Dragonfly

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

The last dragonfly on the wing in Ottawa is the Autumn Meadowhawk. Although individuals start flying in mid-June with the other meadowhawk species, this species’ flight season can last into late October or even early November. They are hardy enough to survive a few light frosts as long as daytime temperatures remain warm and sunny, but once we start receiving a few heavy frosts the remaining population dies off. As the daytime temperature starts to fall, they are often found perching on the ground, sometimes using the surfaces of fallen leaves to warm themselves.

I saw a few Autumn Meadowhawks this week when I visited Hurdman at lunch. I went mostly to look for birds, and on Thursday I counted 11 species on my walk. Highlights included a single Yellow-rumped Warbler and a Northern Flicker, both seen along the feeder path. Large flocks of robins and starlings were feeding on the wild grapes in the same area, and I found three American Tree Sparrows in the vegetation. I also noticed a couple of Autumn Meadowhawks perching on the ground; a pair in tandem flew off toward the river together.

When I returned yesterday it was sunny and at least 15°C, and I wasn’t surprised to see another meadowhawk perching on the ground along the trail that leads to the feeders.

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

It liked perching on the fallen leaves. When I accidentally got too close, it flew off and landed on another leaf.

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

I didn’t see the flicker, the Yellow-rumped Warbler or the tree sparrows, but the starlings and robins were still in the same place. Two Cedar Waxwings had joined them, and I also had a couple of White-throated Sparrows and a Fox Sparrow in the same area. To my surprise a Cabbage White butterfly came along and landed on a small flower.

Cabbage White

Cabbage White

I also saw a bumblebee, a couple of lady beetles and another pair of Autumn Meadowhawks in tandem. As the nights are expected to remain above 0°C for the next week, it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw several different types of insects, including the Autumn Meadowhawks, still flying at the beginning of November!

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4 thoughts on “The Last Dragonfly

  1. Hi,
    I always enjoy reading about your explorations especially in the Ottawa area where I can’t visit often but I still wish I could.

    I was wondering if you’d let us know what camera you are using recently and if you’re happy with it? We’re thinking of getting one for a nature lover (mostly birds and dragonflies) for an upcoming event. We know that the quality of your photos is mostly a reflection of your skills as a naturalist though!

    • Hi Laurie,

      I’m using the Sony Cybershot DSC-HX200V which has a 30x zoom but also has good macro capabilities for the up-close-and-personal insect images. It’s a point-and-shoot so it’s easy to carry around. I think it’s great for what I need it to do; there is a newer model with a higher zoom, but the store I went to actually recommended that I not buy it as the quality wasn’t as good! I don’t know what I’m going to upgrade to when it comes time, since I have loved the family of Sony Cybershot super-zoom cameras for years!

      So thanks for the compliment, and yes, I would highly recommend it for any nature lover who loves to take pictures of what s/he sees!

  2. Thanks! That sounds like a great camera. We’ll go take a look at it.

    And thanks again for many years of entertaining and educational reading!

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