Friday 19 June 2020

Ausable Afternoon

Yesterday I spent a few hours in the afternoon along the Ausable River near Arkona. This place has been of recent interest after James Holdsworth found a good number of clubtail dragonflies, including the provincially rare Rapids Clubtail and Green-faced Clubtail. I was hoping to mimic his success.

I first stopped along Fossil Road, which is actually quite a neat little spot, alongside the Ausable. I had intended just to stop quickly for some plants, but realized there were odes to be seen! 

Several Swift River Cruisers and Midland Clubtails patrolled the river, with a couple other species of clubtail I was unable to catch and identify. 

Midland Clubtail

Swift River Cruiser

Tons of damselflies too! Lots of American Rubyspots, Powdered and Violet Dancers, and Stream Bluets.

Stream Bluet

In case you were wondering, I did some plants of interest. I saw a new species for me, Emory's Sedge (Carex emoryi), which turned out to be the dominant sedge along the river. It apparently enjoys calcareous areas, so this fits the bill! 


I went up to the Mystery Falls Trail, where I intended to access the river. There are breeding Acadian Flycatchers here, but I didn't hear any. I did have a singing Cerulean Warbler though. When I reached the river, I realized things were going to be much more difficult than I was hoping, since the river was much deeper than I wanted to wade in. I began to bushwack down the shore.

Of course I stopped to look at sedges (are you really surprised at this point?).

Handsome Sedge (Carex formosa)

Smooth-sheathed Sedges (Carex laevivaginata)

Bur Reed Sedge (Carex sparganoides)

Woolly Sedge (Carex pellita)

Finally, I reached a point where I'd be able to get into the river and wade. Shortly after I saw a suspicious looking clubtail with a narrower club than the Midlands. I netted it and confirmed it to be my lifer Rapid's Clubtail. My 120th species of ode for Ontario!

Rapids Clubtails are considered endangered, and were the first species of dragonfly to be put on the endangered list. This is a completely new population, and a new river for where this species is found. I saw mine on the Middlesex side of the river, so a nice addition to my county list. This population represents the first record for the county since 1989, when they were last seen near Putnam on the Thames River in the southeast portion of the county. 

I was quite happy after my success. I continued to wade down the river towards the Rock Glen Conservation Area. I was forced up onto the bank a few times. At one point I was walking and spied a spring fed creek/seepage area from afar, I thought to myself "That looks like a good spot for Carex prasina", and sure enough, I got closer and there were a few clumps! Drooping Sedge (Carex prasina) is an uncommon species on Ontario, and a new one for me.

Something I haven't seen during the summer before is American Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia).

There were a bunch of Twelve-spotted Tiger Beetles in a sandy part of the river bank. A new species for me. Tiger beetles are pretty cool.

I walked about 5 kilometers in total, a good workout. A neat little area, will have to check it out again.

1 comment:

  1. The Ausable is indeed an interesting river. Too bad much of it is inaccessible. I stopped by Fossil Road this morning to check it out. Never been along the riverbank there this time of year!