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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Long-distance dispersers

On 7 September, I wrote about trying to find as many species of butterflies as possible on Bodega Head in one day.  Well, I didn't reveal that I was a little distracted in that quest because I also started encountering some interesting dragonflies that day.

Dragonflies are also hard to come by on Bodega Head.  There isn't much open freshwater, and once again, the typical cool and windy weather isn't ideal for them.  But warm weather days in the fall can bring more sightings than at other times of year...especially of species that tend to disperse long distances.

I photographed five species of dragonflies on Bodega Head on 7 September 2013, including one of my favorites.  Here are the five:

Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor)

Common Green Darner (Anax junius)

Cardinal Meadowhawk (Sympetrum illotum)

Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)

Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) 

Although it might not seem that impressive at first, I was very excited about this last picture.  Black Saddlebags is one of my favorite dragonflies, and they're not that common on Bodega Head, so I'm always happy to see them.  They spend most of their time flying (hardly ever landing), and they're very fast and agile flyers, so getting a flight shot is a challenge (most of my pictures were just blurs).  This is one of the only pictures that was in focus, and it shows a female ovipositing!  She's dropping a cluster of eggs at the surface of the water.  (I can't tell for sure, but that might even be a group of eggs underneath the tip of her abdomen.)

At least three of the above species are long-distance dispersers — Common Green Darner, Variegated Meadowhawk, and Black Saddlebags.  Watch for them moving along the coast on warm weather days in the fall!

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