Tuesday 14 July 2020

Neighbourhood Odonate Count

For the last couple of years, I've been throwing around the idea of establishing an odonate (dragonflies and damselflies) count in London. While when you think of odonates, you may not think of London as a good area, it can be surprisingly good! This is obviously not the year...perhaps next year, we'll see.

I decided to focus on a smaller area this year, one I know quite well, my neighbourhood. I have had quite a lot of luck here, everything a ten minute or less walk from home! I planned out a route, and so from about 9:45 am until 7:15 pm, I counted odes! 

Twelve-spotted Skimmer

I had recorded 40 species in my neighbourhood prior to my count, 27 of which I recorded on my count. I managed to add two species to the cumulative list, bringing the total up to 42. As such, I recorded 64% of my total list on my count, which I think is quite good (considering I was only expecting 18 or 19 species)! Of those 42 species, a few of those were accidental (Citrine Forktail, Northern Bluet, Beaverpond Baskettail, Red Saddlebags), and for some others, we are outside the flight period for, such as Shadow and Lance-tipped Darner, which I see more so in August and September. 

Without any further ado, the results.

Broad-winged Damsels (Calopterygidae)
Ebony Jewelwing - 33

Spread-winged Damsels (Lestidae)
Emerald Spreadwing - 1
Slender Spreadwing - 147
Lestes sp. - 1

Narrow-winged Damsels (Coenagrionidae)
Violet Dancer - 1
Marsh Bluet - 6
Familiar Bluet - 101
Orange Bluet - 42
Stream Bluet - 2
Tule Bluet - 1
Eastern Forktail - 420
Fragile Forktail - 118
Sedge Sprite - 33

Darners (Aeshnidae)
Common Green Darner - 14

Clubtails (Gomphidae)
Unicorn Clubtail - 1

Skimmers (Libelluidae)
Dot-tailed Whiteface - 1
Black Saddlebags - 14
Widow Skimmer - 25
Twelve-spotted Skimmer - 45
Four-spotted Skimmer - 3
Blue Dasher - 89
Eastern Pondhawk - 68
Common Whitetail - 80
Eastern Amberwing - 57
Ruby Meadowhawk - 8
White-faced Meadowhawk - 2
Band-winged Meadowhawk - 68
Autumn Meadowhawk - 7

Total Species: 27
Total Individuals: 1388

I divided the checklist so I could calculate totals for each of the four locations I visited (Virginia Park, Northbrook Park, Uplands North Wetland, and Uplands Trail). I found the totals somewhat interesting. The bulk of the individuals at the Uplands wetland were Eastern Forktails (319)...I never want to look at one again.

Virginia Park
Species: 14
Individuals: 138

Northbrook Park
Species: 24
Individuals: 620

Uplands North Wetland
Species: 17
Individuals: 621

Uplands Trail
Species: 4
Individuals: 9

Okay, now some commentary...

So, what were some notable misses? I'd say my most surprising one is Skimming Bluet. They aren't super abundant in my neighbourhood, but I definitely expected at least one. The only other miss of note is Northern Spreadwing. They aren't terribly common, but usually you can find them by sorting through the Slender Spreadwings in this one area of the north wetland. I had my first of the year the previous day. I'm almost positive I did have a Northern on the count, but I couldn't get close enough to get a good look or catch it. As such, it is left as Lestes sp.

Northern Spreadwing (July 13, 2020)

As I noted earlier, I added two new species to my neighbourhood list. These were Steam and Tule Bluets. I had a hunch on where I might see some Stream Bluets, and sure enough, there was one there. The other was mixed in with a bunch of Familiar Bluets along the edge of a storm pond. The Tule Bluet was a complete surprise. I netted a blue type bluet, just to confirm it was a Familiar Bluet, but once I pulled it out I realized "Hey, that's a Tule!". My first for Middlesex county too.

Stream Bluet

Tule Bluet

So, some surprises? I had a bunch! One of the most notable is the numbers of Band-winged Meadowhawks, with 68 tallied. This is only the third occurrence I have noted in the 'hood, and the first involving more than one individual. I had all four Middlesex (and neighbourhood) meadowhawks today, with White-faced being another surprise, as I hadn't had any previously this year.

Four-spotted Skimmer is apparently uncommon in the county, I've only seen them in one other spot, in Dorchester Swamp. I had three today in a spot I haven't really visited in July before. 

Dot-tailed Whiteface is oddly rare in my neighbourhood, and I have only seen it once before. I found one male today.

Another species I had only seen once prior is Sedge Sprite. I found a good number today! I had hoped that with a concerted effort I'd be able to turn up some, but I didn't expect to see so many. The one pictured was actually my first ode of the day.

I've seen Violet Dancer once prior as well, when a male landed on the deck in my yard. I was very pleased to find a female, certainly unexpected.

One last surprise to mention would be Unicorn Clubtail. I didn't see them in the usual spot, but did catch a male in a new location. I've now seen this uncommon species on all three ponds in my neighborhood (sick of that word yet?).

A non-insect surprise was finding a couple singing Marsh Wrens. New for my patch! I've been hoping for this species for awhile, and they were right where I thought they'd be if they showed up.

I'll leave you with this Common Green Darner, a species I don't catch very often. Officially the first ode to draw blood.

A tiring day, but an excellent one. Certainly worth the bad sunburn! 

I guess I have to do a butterfly count now...

Common Sootywing

1 comment:

  1. What? You didn't ask your Mom and me to take part in your count? I am shocked! 😆

    Sounds like you had a FANTASTIC day! 👍 Fun in the sun!