Friday, March 27, 2009
Dragonfly Lifers #4-5
As the days have become warmer the last week or so, more and more dragonflies have been emerging. This afternoon I circuited around the neighborhood in search of basically anything capable of flight: birds, dragonflies, and butterflies. Down along the Yellowthroat Creek I came across a few Pacific Forktails (Ischnura cervula) fluttering around in the low vegetation right along the creek. If it reminds you of the Black-fronted Forktail from a while back, good eye. These two species are very similar, but note the four bright blue dots on the top of the thorax in Pacific Forktail.
While poking around along the creek I also several species of butterflies, including Mourning Cloak, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, and singles of skipper sp. and duskywing sp. Though my eyes were mostly pointed down in search of dragonflies, I also noted Hooded Oriole, Cedar Waxwing, and Red-shouldered Hawk around there, along with the more common residents and wintering species.
I proceeded to the lakes, finding dozens more Pacific Forktails zipping around low to the water. A few days ago, while walking the dog around the lake, I noticed a darner, undoubtedly a Green Darner, buzzing around. I found it again, and confirmed it as a Green Darner (Anax junius.) He was accompanied by a lady friend, and the pair was busily creating the next generation of Green Darners.
Green Darners are huge, commanding dragonflies; they made a nice break from the nearly-microscopic damselflies I've been studying recently. I know I've seen them before, and you probably have too, since they are very common and demand attention. However, since I'm starting my dragonfly list from scratch, it was a lifer for me.
I could hardly ignore the birds around the lake. Normally only Mallards and American Coots are around, but today a Double-crested Cormorant was hanging out. I was pleasantly surprised at how nicely this picture came out, because I quickly shot off a couple pictures as I strolled past.
I was also pleased to see a Green Heron awkwardly flying around the lake with a twig in its bill, indicating its intent on nesting. However, it couldn't seem to decide where to build the nest; first, it tried in the thick tules at the far end of the lake, but later flew up into a nearby tree still carrying the twig.
I popped up to the smaller upper lake to see what was happening up there. I flushed a Spotted Sandpiper from the lake's concrete edge. A pair of Wood Ducks reposing on the lake's edge was a big surprise, since I only rarely see them in the neighborhood.
Not bad for a short neighborhood walk. The two dragonfly lifers put me half-way to double digits for my list! Impressive.
Totally unrelated note: on Wednesday I GOT MY DRIVER'S LICENSE! A major cause for celebration. Of course, I don't have my own car, and probably won't for a long time, but hopefully I'll be able to get out a bit more often to chase rarities.