Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A quick visit to Drummond Island

A bunch of entomologists invaded Drummond Island This past weekend, June 14-16, for the annual meeting of the Michigan Entomological Society.  It was a well-attended affair, and most of us had not been to the island before.  Drummond Island sits about a mile off Point detour in eastern Chippewa Co, and is comprised of dolomitic limestone.  One very interesting aspect of the island is the alvar, a pavement-like limestone formation that supports an interesting ecology and features some plants adapted to live in the rigorous environment.  A bunch of us visited the renowned Maxton Plains alvar, part of which is owned by the Nature Conservancy.

One doesn't generally think of Odonata and dry limestone, but there are many boggy spots and ponds on Drummond Island, as well as several creeks and a small river.  In addition, this IS an island with many bays and inlets with lots of protected coves with abundant reeds, etc., so there are many good habitats for odes.  The weather was not too bad, but we did have several thunderstorms roll through on one of the days.  Most of my time with a net was spent on maxton Plains, or along the lake shore near the Drummond Island Resort near Maxton.
The highlight for me was when Jorie caught a female Williamsonia fletcheri after photographing it eating a crane fly.  The Ebony bog-haunter isn't a new record for Chippewa County, and it has also previously been collected on Maxton Plains.  However, I don't know of anyone finding them with prey before.  Here is a photo of the female that Jorie caught.
Ladona julia was fairly abundant, and on day two, it was very common along the roads.  Celithemis elisa was seen in several spots on Maxton Plains.  The ubiquitous Gomphus spicatus was also along the roads, and we often saw Libellula quadrimaculata.   On June 15, I captured an Arigomphus cornutus at the edge of a wet area where it was feeding.  The emerald Dorocordulia libera was abundant, as were Epitheca spinigera.  We often saw feeding swarms 10-30 feet in the air on the lee side of trees. I saw some other emeralds, but they were flying to high for me to net.  I also saw one Cordulegaster, but it was on its way into the woods as a thunderstorm approached and never saw it again.  One real treat was watching the mayflies hatch at dusk, and the hordes of Basiaeschna janata that fed on them.  Every individual that I netted was a female.
I didn't spend a lot of time with the net, but it looks like anyone wanting to put some real effort on Drummond Island ought to come up with some good records.  There is a lot of state land on the island, and plenty of places to stay.  The habitats are varied enough that some real finds might be possible.  This farthest east part of the Upper Peninsula certainly deserves further investigation!

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