Friday 10 July 2020

Algonquin Odonate Count

This past Wednesday was the odonate (dragonflies and damselflies) count in Algonquin Park. Due to the circumstances this year, they weren't able to conduct the count as normal, but in order to not have a hole in the date, they still wanted to do something. As such, a much smaller group of counters undertook the task. Peter Mills, the coordinator, was nice enough to invite me up, despite me having never done the count before.

We left London quite early in the morning, aiming to arrive at the outdoor theatre in the park (near East Beach, on Lake of Two Rivers), by 8:30 am. There we were briefed on the task at hand, and split off into our groups. I was was Bill and Sarah Lamond, as well as Alex Mills.  

We started off in the Old Airfield area, where we first checked a wooded section on the south side. Not much here, save for one of the two White-faced Meadowhawks our group had.

We made our way to Provoking Falls, where we had quite a lot of luck. Several species we had here were not seen anywhere else on the count. Sarah spotted a Zebra Clubtail, apparently the first for the count.

Twin-spotted Spiketail

Two for one! Eastern Least Clubtail (top) and Stream Cruiser (bottom)

Uhler's Sundragon

Dragonhunter - we had nearly 30 of these that day

We could have spent a long while here, but we had to keep moving! We planned to go check a bog for emeralds, so on our way we went through the open part of the airfield. There were tons of odes, but they were just too high for us to catch! We did nab a couple new species though.

Incurvate Emerald - rare and a lifer for me!

Variable Darner

The bog ended up being a bust, but we did see several Belted Whitefaces, as well as a Frosted and Hudsonian Whiteface. A few butterflies were around as well, most noteworthy being Bog Copper. In lack of odes, here is a consolation sedge.

Houghton's Sedge (Carex houghtoniana)

After lunch, we went over to the Pog Lake campground. We wanted to check a creek for Harpoon Clubtail, but didn't find any! We did, however, add Hagen's Bluet and Aurora Damsel to the list. Several Violet Dancers were present as well.

I really didn't botanize all that much, but there were a couple neat things along the creek.

Needle Spikerush (Eleocharis acicularis)

Inflated Sedge (Carex vesicaria)

Black-girdle Bulrush (Scirpus atrocinctus)

Afterwards we went to the Pog Lake dam. We saw several clubtails over the water as we arrived, so we got excited!

Bill looking for dragonflies

We had several Dragonhunters, a couple Mustached Clubtails, a Rusty Snaketail, and an Ashy Clubtail. I believe the latter three were all the only ones of the count.

Rusty Snaketail

After the dam, we made one more stop in a sedge meadow along Centennial Ridges Road.

Again, no emeralds! Oh well, at least we saw a few other goodies, such as our first Delta-spotted Spiketails, Black-shouldered Spinyleg, Sweetflag Spreadwing, and Eastern Red Damsels. We also had a Beaverpond Clubtail, the only one of the count, and a lifer for Alex. Just as we were leaving, I netted a Sphagnum Sprite.

Sweetflag Spreadwing

Delta-spotted Spiketail

Black-shouldered Spinyleg - note damaged wing
Beaverpond Clubtail

Eastern Red Damsel
Sphagnum Sprite

We then went to the docks at Opeongo for the compilation. I believe we ended up as a group with 42 or 43 species, and the complete count was at least 69 (66 as of compilation, I know they got Stygian Shadowdragon, Vesper Bluet, and Orange Bluet, perhaps some late additions were submitted as well). It was a hot and humid, and despite the limited number of observers, it still turned out to be a great day! EDIT: Final count tally was 72 species, two short of the all time high record! This includes two new count additions!

On our way out of the park I popped into Spruce Bog hoping for one last shot at some emeralds, but no luck. 

As a consolation prize, I found Billing's Sedge (Carex billingsii), a somewhat uncommon and overlooked inhabitant of open sphagnum bogs. It is very similar to Three-seeded Sedge (C. trisperma), which I also saw. It can be separated from Three-seeded by its narrower leaves, which are filiform (thread-like) and involute (rolled inwards at the edges). Three-seeded has wider flat leaves.

A fun filled day in the park!

On another note, yesterday I got a call from Bill Lindley who said that he was looking at a Ruff in the Strathroy Sewage Lagoons. I couldn't believe my ears! I had my phone on mute, so I sure am glad I had looked over and saw the screen light up! I rushed over, and there it was, a nice male Ruff. It hasn't been seen today to my knowledge. Also at the lagoons was my first Short-billed Dowitcher for Middlesex county. Isn't it weird how less than 24 hours earlier I had been standing in a bog listening to singing Hermit and Swainson's Thrushes? 


  1. *Ahem* Aren't you forgetting two other important people that accompanied you on the dragonfly count? 🤣

    1. It was a great day! I love spending time in Algonquin Park!