Sunday, August 01, 2010

NE Washtenaw Preserves

Anax junius at LeFurge Preserve

Today I decided to pay a visit to two preserves in the NE part of Washtenaw County - LeFurge Preserve and Kosch-Headwaters Preserve. The Washtenaw County Natural Areas Preservation Program, NAPP, has been active in acquiring parcels that help preserve and enhance the watersheds and also feature an array of habitats. Another organization, the Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy, has been active for well over a decade, acquiring properties and consolidating holdings on the eastern edge of the county, and the star has been the LeFurge Preserve - 325 acres of wetlands, old fields, and some woods. I visited the LeFurge wetland back in 1999, when it was first being developed into a quality wetland. Today’s visit was the first since then, and it was gratifying to see how much the preserve has been enhanced with natural plantings, as well as the nice parking area.

The wetland there is predominated by a cattail marsh with deeper areas featuring a lot of water lilies and other emergent aquatic vegetation. In 1999, Anax junius was common there, and today, it was really abundant. I was amazed at how many I saw flying there. They truly seemed to own the airspace. I also saw a few Tramea lacerata, many Sympetrum obtrusum, Pachydiplax longipennis, and a few Ischnura verticalis. Obviously, a sample early in the season would be good. I’ll try doing that next year.

My next stop was the Kosch-Headwaters Preserve, a bit farther N on Prospect Rd. A relatively new preserve, it was acquired in 2006 by NAPP. This preserve is 160 acres in size, and is actually in the River Rouge Watershed, not the Huron River. Much of the area is covered with old fields, some woods, good brushy areas, and a wooded pond. Some of the preserve is also cultivated farmland. I didn’t really know what to expect here, but the terrain is somewhat hilly, and the meadows supported a LOT of butterflies. Odonata-wise, it’s not going to be too impressive, but I did find a lot of Lance-tipped darners, Aeshna constricta, which I assume are coming from the wooded pond or some nearby open ponds. I saw Libellula pulchella, Libellula luctuosa, Plathemis lydia, Tramea lacerata, and many Sympetrum at the field edges. I did not see a single Anax junius there, even though the preserve was less than a mile from Lefurge! This shows how good it is to have a diverse habitat -- and those wooded ponds are very important. One of the original points about the Kosch Headwaters Preserve was the presence of Blue Ash. I wonder if the Emerald Ash Borer has taken that out, too.

wooded pond -- there are several whitetail fawns there, but you can't see them!

Aeshna constricta.

I hope to visit as many of the Washtenaw County Preserves as possible in the remaining two months of the Odonata season, and possibly scout out others for next year.

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