Friday, June 24, 2011

A Great Day for Emergence at Camas Prairie

I just returned from a visit to Camas Prairie, Oregon, which is a little ways south of Mt. Hood in the Cascade Mountains. The prairie is a large wet meadow and great for a lot of montane odonates in the Pacific Northwest. Because of the late spring-like (cool and wet) conditions in the region, I didn’t expect much activity at Camas Prairie, but emergence of several species is well underway.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Alvord Basin Weekend, 17–19 June 2011

I spent last weekend (17–19 June) in the Alvord Basin of southeastern Oregon to check out the odonate action with several friends. This is a stunning area of wide-open high desert vistas below the humbling east face of Steens Mountain and it’s a special area for odonates. Several species reach their northern or northwestern limit at wetlands associated with hot springs in this area. In particular we visited Mickey Hot Springs, Alvord Hot Spring, Borax Lake, and Twin Springs, but only Mickey Hot Springs had any appreciable activity. At most of these hot springs, the water is too hot to support insect life where it leaves the ground, so follow the little streams to wetlands where the water has cooled sufficiently.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

John Day River Outing, 11 June 2011

On Saturday I decided to head east and see how the odonate action was on the John Day River in north-central Oregon. I wasn’t very hopeful since it has been such a late season this year in this region, and I figured the water level would be pretty high (the Columbia River has been at near flood stage for weeks now), but I wouldn’t find out if I didn’t look! I went to the Cottonwood Recreation Area (still labelled J.S. Burres State Park on many maps) at the Hwy 206 crossing—one of my favorite odonating places in the state. The John Day River is in a deep, rugged canyon over much of its lower 120 miles or so, and this is one of the few places where you can access it by car along this stretch.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Just a Photo: A Table for Eight, Please?

I figured readers would enjoy this photo. Here we have four pairs of Vivid Dancers (Argia vivida), all ovipositing in tandem on the same sprig of emergent vegetation at Gold Lake, Oregon. I can just imagine the males discussing the issues of the day over cold brews while the females are busy depositing their eggs. It’s not unusual to find multiple pairs of a species ovipositing in close proximity like this, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group “seated” so nicely.

On a more technical note, what you’re seeing is an instance of contact guarding—the mated male remains in tandem to the female while she’s depositing eggs in order to prevent other males from coming along and removing or displacing his sperm (it’s safe to assume that each of these pairs copulated before they all found this great piece of real estate). Contact guarding is common among the damselflies (coenagrionids and lestids, anyway), but is more limited among the dragonflies where it is chiefly performed by some libellulids (skimmers), as well as the Common Green Darner (Anax junius).

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Few Ecuadorian Odonates

I haven’t posted anything here for a while since I started preparations for a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. I intended to publish something right before I left and have another post scheduled to publish while I was gone in order to keep the content flowing, but things just got too hectic.

This wasn’t a dedicated odonate trip like I’ve done before—it was more of a touristy, relax and enjoy the culture, see some new places and wildlife sort of trip. I’ve been to the Ecuador mainland before, but this was my first trip to the Galapagos and it was a blast!

Naturally, no matter where I go I’m on the lookout for odonates, and this trip was no exception. I didn’t see very much, however. The mainland weather was rather cool (relatively) and cloudy much of the time, so there just wasn’t a lot flying. I saw a couple of species flying about the scrub on the Galapagos Islands—species that are strong fliers which are able to set up shop on distant oceanic islands, so these were on the mainland too and didn’t really get my juices flowing. I never got to any freshwater wetlands on the islands where there might be more interesting odonates.

While on the mainland, things came together for a few hours one morning in the Zamora area: lots of forest, lots of beautiful streams, and some glorious, radiant sun. This gave me an opportunity to find and photograph some really interesting odonates on the Amazon slope of the Andes. Here are a few . . .