Monday, August 27, 2012

Where are the meadow hawks?

Sympetrum sp. July 11, 2010 at Pittsfield Preserve.

Where are the meadow hawks? I have not seen a single Sympetrum this summer. Much of lower Michigan has been in a serious drought - two weeks ago we had the first significant rain since the end of June, and today we are finally getting a small bit. It's not enough though, as the non-irrigated fields look pretty dreadful. Usually by this time, meadow hawks are everywhere. Last Thursday, I scoured the Lily Park area in Pittsfield Twp., and did not see a single one. Duck-potato Pond has been reduced to a skim of water, where I could see ducks standing in the water, and a few shallow pools where some looked like they could be paddling along. I could walk 50 feet out into the pond on mostly dry land, which usually is at worst, a mucky place you would not want to go.

Now, I don't expect that everyone has the same conditions, but I am very interested in what others are seeing across the state. I think this summer's weather may have really devastated species that live in marshy zones that are dependent on groundwater. Many Sympetrum species live in such areas, and those wetlands have largely been dry or nearly so since early July. It's perplexing, for sure. On top of that, I expect it to not be a good late summer for species of Aeshna that emerge from woodland ponds, which dried up in mid-summer. Maybe emergence will be delayed until after we get a bunch of rain, but it is now the last week of August. This is in stark contrast to the spring, when Spatterdock darners were extremely abundant. This summer's long stretches of heat without any appreciable rain, compounded with so little winter precipitation, certainly has wreaked havoc with many of the the Odonata here. It will be interesting to see if they rebound in the fall, and what happens next year.

8 comments:

oldpoetsoul said...

We saw a meadowhawk last week in Reading, MI. Can't recall many others, though.

David Marvin said...

I have seen plenty around the Lansing and Laingsburg area, Ruby and White-Faced mostly. We have not had any more rain than other parts of the state this summer.

David Marvin said...

I have seen plenty in the greater Lansing area (Ingham, Eaton, Shiawassee Counties), mostly Ruby and White-Faced.

David Marvin said...

I have seen plenty lately in the greater Lansing area (Ingham, Eaton, & Shiawassee counties). They have been Ruby and White-Faced mostly, with a few of the yellow-legged ones that I would classify as an Autumn Meadowhawk.

Matt said...

My ruby types (and virtually all my clubtails) disappeared about a month ago in Berrien. I think I had one shadow darner but missed my swing and was without the camera that day, have not seen it in 3 visits since then.
Matt

Cody said...

My knowledge of species identification is limited, but I've seen very few meadow hawk spp. so far in Jackson. I don't think Jackson Audubon's trip to Point Moo this past Saturday yielded a single individual despite 8 hours in the field with at least five of us paying some attention to Odonates.

Mark O'Brien said...

I have been out a few times, in places where I would normally have seen a Sympetrum , and often, many. Not a single one this month.

greg bauman said...

I have noticed the same in Marquette county. While there have been an abundance of S. vicinum, I have not caught any other species. And not for lack of trying. Same thing with A. umbrosa. I have caught a couple of those and have not seen any others. Compared to last year at the same time it is quite a dramatic change. Three inches of rain this week, we shall see what comes in October.