Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dragonfly Lifers #7-8

I know I haven't posted about birds for awhile - after all, this is OCBirding, not OCDragonflying. However, I simply haven't had the time to sit down and write about the few birds I've managed to see recently in quick breaks of studying for my dreaded AP exams. In the last week I've found two more dragonfly lifers, bringing my list up to eight.

On Friday I took a quick jaunt down along the Yellowthroat Creek in my neighborhood. Spring migration has been really slow recently, so I focused on dragonflies. I didn't find many, but one of the few I found was a lifer: Flame Skimmer (Libellula saturata.) Now I know that I've seen plenty of these before, but the list starts from scratch. It's a common species throughout California, and if you live within their range you've probably noticed them as well. They are big, brilliant red-orange dragonflies that grab your attention.

I found number eight yesterday at Starr Ranch. I was there to assist with the MAPS bird banding program, but kept an eye out for dragonflies as we tromped along the creek to check nets. We had a great day, catching lots of birds. Some of the more interesting ones were Lazuli Bunting, Black-headed Grosbeak, Costa's Hummingbird, Black Phoebe, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Rufous-crowned Sparrow.

Back to dragonflies. The creek that runs through the banding area is a good spot for dragonflies. As we were furling the nets in the early afternoon, I noticed a brilliant red dragonfly perched low over the water near one of the nets. At first glance this one resembles another Flame Skimmer, but it is a much smaller and less bulky species. The abdomen in particular is longer and thinner than a Flame Skimmer.

There aren't many other dragonflies that are completely red like this one. It is a Cardinal Meadowhawk (Sympetrum illotum.) It is one handsome dragonfly. I've probably seen them before, but perhaps not.

Hopefully I'll have more time to write about birds later. I'll be completely done with AP exams on Friday, which should free up my schedule greatly.

1 comment:

Cathy Carroll said...

Neil, very nice dragonflies - they are both pretty dramatic looking with those coral colors. I'm sure you know about this, but just in case, Dennis Paulson has a new field guide - Dragonflies and damselflies of the West published by Princeton Field Guides. Curiously, same guy who has the great shorebird guide.