Sunday, June 1, 2014. 2-4 pm.
Sunny, strong southerly breeze, 88 degrees F.
I first went to the north side to look for dragonflies along the north shore of the lake. There were white-caps on the lake and lapping against the shoreline. The conditions for viewing these insects was not good, so I drove around to the south side and walked the shore line of the west arm of the south lake. This area was protected by trees from the south wind. Odonates have been slow to appear this spring; in most years, several species are flying by now. The first species to appear this year were Common Green Darners and Variegated Meadowhawks which I reported on in my last field note. These two species are believed to be migratory and emerged from the water someplace far to the south. Species that overwinter in the park as aquatic larvae are dependent on rising water temperatures to emerge as adults in the spring.
I was pleased to see four adult Familiar Bluets (damselflies) a few days ago. Today, I saw two more Familiar Bluets, 15 male and 2 female Eastern Forktails and a Black Saddlebag dragonfly. The Eastern Forktail is a small damselfly that is one of the first species to emerge each spring. It can be seen all summer and as late as October. It is possible that it goes through several generations in a season. It has a wide distribution over eastern North America. I have seen it in Maine, Quebec, and Ontario. The male is very distinctive with a bright green thorax and a black abdomen tipped in blue. They can be found flitting about in vegetation near the water’s edge.
The water in the lake was very clear today and the water level above normal. The path I usually walk along on this shoreline was flooded in places. New paths have been trampled through the vegetation by fisherman. I found evidence of their presence in empty beer cans, discarded live bait containers, and monofilament line.
I have been working with Jim Pease to draft a plan for vegetative management in the park. The draft has been submitted to the Parks Director for review. The long term master plan is to restore native ecosystems and these must be managed to protect them from non-native invasive species. The word heritage was included in the name of the park partly to honor Iowa conservationists but also to recognize our native wetlands, prairies, and savannas. The Friends of Hayden Park planted 700 native shrubs last spring and another 700 this spring. We selected a diversity of species that will provide fruit and nuts for wildlife in the coming years.
Look for an announcement soon of a summer nature interpretive program.