I got to work earlier than I needed to yesterday, so I went for a walk. I decided to check out the boxes on the Big Field to see if anything was going on. The Big Field is an old field that is on a 3 year mowing cycle. One third of it gets mowed each year to keep the shrubs and trees from moving in. It is a great place to find insects and spiders in the early morning when the cool temperatures make them lethargic enough to pose for you. It’s also a great place for flowers that like lots of sun.
The field was full of spreadwings, a family of damselflies that hold their wings just slightly open. Most were tenerals – that is most had just emerged, perhaps yesterday, from their larval form. Their bodies and wings were not hardened up yet, and their true colors had not set in.
To identify a spreadwing to species, you have to examine the male’s terminal appendage – sometimes with a hand lens. (Oh the indignity of it all!) Quite by accident, I think I got a sharp enough picture of this fellow to say it is a Slender Spreadwing. You can click here to see a much larger version of the picture and scroll down to see the tip of the abdomen. Dragonfly and damselfly males use this appendage to grasp the female behind the head prior to mating. The terminal appendage of the male and the “neck” of the female fit together like a lock and key.
By the time I was done walking through this field, my boots were as wet as if I had walked through a pond and my pants were wet up to my thighs from the dew.
And, oh yeah… the nest boxes: a couple of the boxes had Tree Swallows with babies. The Bluebird box had a nest with no eggs or babies. I hope that means the first batch fledged already. The pair were acting all twitterpated, so I think we’ll be having a second batch soon. This picture is from May 5th. The timing is right for a second batch.