My first real dragonfly outing of the year occurred on May 24, 2021, and as usual, took place at Roger’s Pond in Marlborough Forest. I invited a few friends to join me now that outdoor gatherings can include up to 5 people, and fellow OFNC members Derek and Gerald decided to join me. It was a warm, sunny day, and I hoped to find the usual common skimmers and clubtails, as well as a few uncommon species that I’d seen previously at Marlborough Forest such as the elusive Ebony Boghaunter and Harlequin Darner. I’ve already seen one boghaunter this season, but it’s been a few years since I’ve seen a Harlequin Darner, and the Cedar Grove Nature Trail has been a repeat site for this ode.
We met at 9:30 am, just early enough to get some birding in while waiting for the sun to rise higher in the sky. We had the usual Nashville Warblers, Black-throated Green Warblers, Great Crested Flycatchers, White-throated Sparrows, Veeries, and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers on the walk in. At the pond itself we had Eastern Kingbirds, a Pied-billed Grebe, Common Yellowthroats and four Ring-necked Ducks. Many dragonflies were already flying along the open trail through the cedar forest, including a few teneral whitefaces and emeralds.
On July 22nd I received an email from Chris Lewis about a new dragonfly spot along the Ottawa River. I’d been to Shelia McKee Park out near Dunrobin just once, on an OFNC trip in 2015 to look for herps; it has a network of woodland trails and a steep staircase that leads down from the top of the cliff to the rocky beach at the bottom. Chris said she found evidence of a very recent dragonfly emergence of in the form of both exuviae and teneral dragonflies; she recognized exuviae of both clubtails and emeralds, though she was not able to identify them to species. She saw an unidentified darner and several teneral meadowhawks in the woods, and several Powdered Dancers and a pair of Stream Bluets in tandem near the water. However, it was her clubtail report that intrigued me: she mentioned one Lancet Clubtail, both mature and teneral Black-shouldered Spinylegs, several Midland Clubtails, and one Cobra Clubtail which had become the unfortunate meal of a Midland Clubtail. It is amazing that I’ve never considered going back to this park for odes before – the shoreline here is quite rocky, with little or no emergent vegetation, reminiscent of Britannia Point at Mud Lake or the causeway at Morris Island, both of which are great spots for clubtails. Curious to see these clubtails for myself, I headed out the following Sunday (July 28th) and brought my net in case there was anything worth catching.
While at the Dunlop Picnic area, Chris and I got a call from Chris Traynor saying that he was on his way up to Meech Lake. Chris Lewis and I were on our way there next, and it didn’t take him long to catch up with us as we were walking down the large hill to the lake, listening to the vireos and a Blackburnian Warbler singing. Our destination was the waterfall at the old Carbide Wilson ruins where we hoped to find the snaketails Chris T. had reported seeing earlier in the week. However, first we spent some time exploring the shore of the lake where we found Powdered Dancers, a Chalk-fronted Corporal, and a couple of clubtails on logs too far from shore to identify. It was too early for the Slaty Skimmers to be flying; these dark blue dragonflies are one of my personal favourites, but we saw more than enough other species to make up for their absence.
Although many birders consider the breeding season to be rather slow, I enjoy going out in June and July as many of our breeding birds are still singing, and there is always a chance of finding an active nest or some newly fledged birds being fed or taking their first flights under the watchful eyes of their parents. These months are also good for seeing butterflies and dragonflies, so even if I don’t find any baby birds, there is always something interesting to catch my attention!
I was still on vacation on Friday, July 25th and went to Mud Lake with the hope of seeing some interesting odonates. I came up with a good list, including Northern Spreadwing, Marsh Bluet, Hagen’s Bluet, Powdered Dancer, Eastern Forktail, Common Green Darner, Eastern Pondhawk, Dot-tailed Whiteface, White-faced Meadowhawk, Autumn Meadowhawk, Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Widow Skimmer, and Common Whitetail. I did not see any clubtails.
On June 28th Chris Lewis, Mike Tate and I spent some time searching for dragonflies at Bruce Pit and Mud Lake. Mike and I arrived at the Bruce Pit first, and when we heard an Indigo Bunting singing in the trees south of the parking lot we went to get a closer look. Not only did we see the beautiful blue male Indigo Bunting, we also found our first White-faced Meadowhawk of the year. This was a bit of a surprise as the meadowhawks are late-season odes that fly well into September and October….it seemed a bit wrong to find one in June! Chris arrived shortly after this discovery and from there we made our way down into the pit. Cattails had grown up along the southwest corner of the pond, making it difficult to navigate. The Marsh Wrens, however, loved this new habitat…we heard at least four of them singing in the reeds.
On June 16th I visited Petrie Island to look for birds and bugs. While the birds were my primary focus this outing, I was curious as to whether any Blue Dashers were present. I was hoping that last year’s colony had successfully reproduced, and given that my Algonquin field guide indicates they fly in June, this seemed as good a time as any to check.
On the last day of July Bob Bracken, Chris Lewis, Mike Tate and I went out to do some dragon-hunting. We started off at the Bill Mason Center where the birds seemed to be more plentiful than the odonates. We found robins, waxwings, Swamp Sparrows, Song Sparrows, one Yellow Warbler, at least half a dozen Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, a Northern Flicker and an Alder Flycatcher in the marsh; in the woods we heard a Veery, a Hermit Thrush and an Eastern Wood-pewee. The best bird of the day, however, was a juvenile Marsh Wren which responded to Bob’s pishing by hopping onto the boardwalk rail!
The first day of the Victoria Day long weekend was warm and sunny and gorgeous; it felt more like a day in mid-summer than late spring. I took my insect net out for the first time this season and headed over to the Cedar Grove Nature Trail in Marlborough Forest to see what I could find. Although I knew many of the butterflies and dragonflies unique to Marlborough Forest would not have emerged yet, I still had hopes of finding some interesting reptiles and amphibians. I was also curious as to whether I would find any interesting birds there, as I had never been there before during migration.