Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back to Normal at Pittsfield Preserve

Dragonfly paradise for now.
During last year's awful drought and strange early spring, the mid-summer to fall looked pretty grim -- many ponds dried up, and the Odonata of late summer were almost non-existent here.  One place in particular -- Pittsfield Preserve -- where I have been monitoring the Odonata, was bone-dry by this time last year, and I was quite curious about what I would see this year.  We have had an abundance of rain this year, and even though it has been quite hot the past couple of weeks, we have also had adequate rainfall.  I went out to Pittsfield Preserve today, and am very happy to see all of the wetlands - both man-made and natural, have good water levels.  The ephemeral pond that is filled by the draining wooded wetland to the east is doing very well, and there were lots of odes flying around.  I collected a new species for the site there -- Enallagma traviatum westfalli.

Pachydiplax longipennis
 The skimmers were in great abundance at the wetland sites, with Libellula pulchella being the most numerous.  Also in abundance were many Blue dashers, Pachydiplax longipennis.  It's a great feeling to be standing by a pond and see dozens of dragonflies at any instant.   I am very pleased that populations have apparently rebounded, and  the wetlands look very lush right now. I caught a few specimens, but the list for today's trip is as follows:
Lestes australis
Enallagma basidens
Enallagma traviatum westfalli
Ischnura verticalis
Anax junius
Libellula pulchella
Libellula luctuosa
Plathemis lydia
Pachydiplax longipennis
Erythemis simplicicollis
Celithemis eponina
Perithemis tenera
Tramea lacerata
Pantala flavescens
Sympetrum rubicundulum?

an old P. lydia
 Fifteen species isn't too shabby for an hour or so in the field at one small location.  I am sure I missed a few damsels that were too far away to ID.

I will reiterate here what I have long believed -- long-term studies of a habitat produce more interesting information as one spends more time at a site.  As much as it's great collecting at a new place that is different from the local areas, the long-term observations at a place such as Pittsfield Preserve provide information on species succession, yearly variations, and so forth.  It's also interesting seeing new species come into a site.  This year, I observed a single female Perithemis tenera at the preserve.  Maybe there will be more there next year.

in copula
Still to come are the Aeshnas, and it will be interesting to see what is flying this year, since all of the woodland ponds they inhabit were dry last year.
Halloween pennant ♀