Last Wednesday, I had the distinct pleasure of leading Phyllis and Justin on a Dragon Hunting adventure.
They were in town from Oregon… quite a long way from here! Originally, they had signed up for an Elderhostel intergenerational program we offer, but the June offering had to be cancelled. They were the only ones signed up, unfortunately. Not easily deterred, the adventurous pair did not cancel their travel plans. So, off we went… the hunt was on!
Our first find (other than the ubiquitous Eastern Forktail) was a pretty little Slender Spreadwing.
Spreadwings are a kind of damselfly. The Slender Spreadwing male is quite lovely: blue eyes, greenish shoulder stripes, lemon yellow under his thorax, metallic bronzy-green abdomen. With spreadwings, to provide positive identification for the NYS Survey, you need to photograph the terminal appendage.
Justin learned quickly the safe way to handle these beauties,
and it wasn’t long before he got the knack of capturing them in his aerial net.
For most of the other species we found the NYS scientists require nothing more than an observation because the field marks are so distinctive it is difficult to confuse them for anything else. We captured them and photographed them nonetheless, just for fun.
Blue Dasher (male)
Eastern Pondhawk (male)
Twelve-spotted Skimmer (female)
Common Whitetail (male)
This is the third year of the survey. I’ve seen plenty of Common Whitetails in a variety of habitats. I have never been able to net one, nor had anyone in my group that has netted one. But Justin did! Way to go, Justin!
Dot-tailed Whiteface (male)
It was a great day and I will file two official datasheets, as we visited two separate sites on the Audubon property. I will also (eventually) log the two site surveys at my Odonata blog, which you can see by clicking here.
Dragons weren’t our only finds…
Check out this awesome caterpillar that Phyllis found. I think it’s one of the Checkerspots:
I kept spotting little grasshoppers when I was looking for dragons:
We stopped to check out the owl pellet and found this tiny jawbone:
It was great spending a couple of hours with this curious pair of visitors. Justin, it was great to meet you. You are a very delightful person and you have a really cool grandma. Phyllis, it was great to meet you. You’re doing a great thing with your grandkids. I can STILL remember a trip I took with my grandma when I was but FIVE years old. I didn’t get to meet Emily, but if she is as grateful as Justin, it must be a joy to spend time with her, too.