Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dragonfly Lifer #2: Aztec Dancer (probable)

I've waited impatiently for spring to roll around in anticipation of seeing lots of new dragonflies. I've seen nothing but Variegated Meadowhawks since I began my official dragonfly list in late December of last year. I was able to add a new one to my slowly-growing list this afternoon.

I took a quick ride over to Santiago Oaks Regional Park this afternoon in hopes of photographing the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Unfortunately, I couldn't find him anywhere (he may have already left; I haven't seen him the last two times I've been there, and he's got a long way to go.) I took a hike around the Wilderness Loop, finding some California Thrashers, two Golden-crowned Sparrow, and a Lincoln's Sparrow, among others. I flushed a dragonfly from the edge of the path, but when it landed again, I could see it was another Variegated Meadowhawk - rats.

A few feet farther down the trail, I flushed a tiny blue thing which weakly fluttered into the grass at the path's edge. A damselfly! It was a pretty one, patterned in blue and black, though the vast majority of damselflies are colored similarly to this. I took some photos, hoping they would be enough to identify it back at home. After a few minutes of flipping through my field guide, I found a good match: California Dancer (Argia agrioides.) Unfortunately, to confuse things, there is a nearly identical species, the Aztec Dancer (Argia nahuana) that can only be distinguished by careful examination of the abdomen tips in hand. Rats. It's like having the second bird you look at being a Willow/Alder Flycatcher.

I referred to the text for some pointers. According to the species accounts, Aztec Dancer begins to fly earlier in the year than California Dancer - March opposed to April. So, assuming the information in the book is correct, I'm tentatively calling this an Aztec Dancer. If you have any opinions please feel free to comment.


Squid said...

Might be slowly growing...but just think - it doubled in one day! Can't do that too often.

Doug said...

Sorry, it's a female Vivid Dancer, notice the triangles between the black stripes. You can use my website for more ID help.


Kathy Bigg's New Book will be out in May "Common Dragonflies of California". It will have all of California's Odes in it.