Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17, 2013: Erv's Field Notes #59

This colorful dragonfly was photographed on the north shore of the north lake on Sunday, June 16,2013. I identified it as a Midland Clubtail, a new species for Hayden Park.  This raises the total species of odonates observed in the park to 51. 6/16/13 (Erv Klaas)

Sunday, June 16, 2013. 1:30-3:00 pm. Bright sunshine, slight breeze from west, 85 degrees F.
The Park was busy today with boaters, walkers, and fishers. Lots of families enjoying the park on Father’s Day.

I walked along the north shore in search of dragonflies. A pair of Black Saddlebags flew by in tandem. I tentatively identified a Common Baskettail patrolling a section of the shoreline. A couple of blue damselflies perched on vegetation turned out to be Double-striped Bluets. As I was slowly moving along the dirt path near the water, a Mallard drake walked out of the tall vegetation a few yards in front of me. He walked into the water and swam away from shore. A few minutes later, he got up and flew back into the tall vegetation.
I continued up the trail and spotted a large yellow and black dragonfly on a rock near the water. I edged slowly toward it and began to photograph it. I immediately noticed the enlarged tip of the tail that indicated that it was a member of a group of uncommon species of dragonflies called clubtails. The bug was very cooperative and let me approach to within a few feet. I took a lot of photos with my telephoto lens in hopes that I could get a picture with definitive identifying marks. Later when I downloaded the photos on to my computer I was able to identify it as a Midland Clubtail, a new species for the park. I continued surveying the shoreline for another half-hour and identified Rainbow Bluets, more Double-Striped Bluets and Eastern Forktails. Several Common Green Darners flew by including a pair in tandem. You can see my photo of the Midland Clubtail on the park blog.

As I returned to the parking lot, the Mallard drake was sitting motionless about 30 yards offshore in the same spot that I saw him before. This behavior indicated that he has a mate nesting in the tall vegetation. His attentiveness indicated also that the hen is probably just in the laying stage. The drake will remain close-by until she begins incubation; a period of 28 days. The drake will then return once or twice a day to check on her but will remain at a distance, perhaps a mile or more, so as not to attract predators. Even so, predation causes the loss of 75 percent or more of duck nests. Re-nesting is common and with ample amounts of good habitat mallard populations can be sustained. The vegetation where I observed this pair is very dense and she should have a good chance of a successful hatch.

Erv Klaas

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