31 August 2014

Archilestes Grandis : New Early Date for Michigan

On Tuesday, August 26th, I stopped by the Great Spreadwing (A. grandis) location in Wayne County.  

I was worried that the upstream construction at 7-Mile & Haggerty Road may wipe out the population of Archilestes grandis due to silt, etc.   I was pleased to find 4 females (3 tenerals) and 3 males (1 teneral) for a new early date in Michigan.

 We'll see if the development's future use of landscape chemicals and runoff impact the population.  I hope they're not impacted since it's great to be able to observe such a large damselfly in the area.

Ophio Odyssey - day 2, stop 2

2nd stop = Gathering of Exuviae at the Canoe Launch

Carney Dam along the Brule River

Finding this location isn't necessarily easy since the roads aren't square and aren't necessarily marked in the Gazetteer. However, the fields in the area contained Clay-colored Sparrows, Bobolinks, and Brewer's Blackbirds.

Upon arriving there is a small, cleared area to launch canoes (45.98066, -88.39839).  Much of the river bank isn't accessible by foot. 

The logs along the shoreline had several exuviae attached to them.

These included 9 Ophiogomphus (rupinsulensis or carolus).

Not a bad collection for a rainy morning.

27 July 2014

Ophio Odyssey - day 2, stop 1

1st stop = A swarm of mosquitoes and rain

Snake Rapids along the Net River

June 12th, the day called for rain most of the morning so I decided to scout for locations to check if/when the weather improved.  I saw this location noted in my gazetteer and saw a sign near Amasa giving a distance of several miles from the main road.   Some trout fishermen I saw later were surprised I made it to the river in my car since the road must normally be in bad shape.  This side road looked to be recently graded so travel was fine in my car.  There are many roads that connect to the Net River Road so I was never sure if I was going the right way until I arrived.  A couple of nice sightings were made on my drive to the river:  a Black Bear lumbered off the road about 1/2 mile from the boat launch and a Connecticut Warbler was singing a bit further away.

I was pleased to see the sign when I arrived:

View of the lake below the rapids:

The rapids themselves looked great for some wading and dragonfly searches on a dry weather day.

Looking back towards the lake / boat launch area:

During the rain, I found several exuviae along a log at the edge of the river.  

Surprisingly, this included one of my target species for the trip with one female Riffle Snaketail (O. anomalus). I believe this is a new river system to confirm this species' presence.  The others were also snaketails (O. rupinsulensis or carolus).

To access the log in the picture above, I had to go back to my car to put on my water shoes since I needed to wade in knee-deep water.  While changing my shoes at the car, the swarm of mosquitoes filled the interior.

It took me a day and a half to eventually get the little biters out.  It is annoying to be swatting mosquitoes as you're driving down the road, while others are sitting on the dashboard filled with blood.  That may have been the thickest swarm I have experienced.

However, this location looked spectacular and another visit is deserved in the future, with good weather.

16 July 2014

Ophio Odyssey - day 1, stop 3

3rd stop = Deeper Flowing Water with Large Dragons

Erickson Boat Landing, DNR boat launch on the Paint River, upstream from Highway 141

MNFI found Ophiogomphus nymphs at the bridge of Hwy 141 (NW of Crystal Falls), but it was shaded in that area by the time I arrived on June 11, 2014.  I saw the sign to the boat launch upstream which was a few miles upstream and was pleased with the river access (46.14224, -88.40381).  

 The river was fairly wide (~80’) and ranged in depth from knee-deep to waist-deep with a moderate flow.

Dozens of teneral/young Swift River Cruisers (M. illinoiensis) with a couple of Prince Baskettails (E. princeps) were patrolling the river overhead.  

young adult female Swift River Cruiser (M. illinoiensis): 

 I have never seen so many Macromias flying in one place.  A couple of snaketails were observed, but too far away for a chance to ID.  At one point a female Twin-spotted Spiketail (Cordelegaster maculata) flew by and landed in a tree on the far bank.  
Upstream from the boat launch was a small woodland creek with a gravelly bottom and a few silty areas.  A couple of fast-flying dragonflies eluded me and remain a mystery.

In this location I also found some baskettails, including this male Spiny Baskettail (E. spinigera):

Only three exuviae were collected on the vegetation of the banks of the Paint River and the creek outlet.  These were the more common snaketails (O. rupinsulensis or carolus).

Unfortunately, this was the last stop with good weather.  The coming day called for rain, wind, and cooler temperatures.

12 July 2014

Ophio Odyssey - day 1, stop 2

Please note: Ophiogomphus howei is currently listed as threatened in Michigan, and collection of live specimens is prohbited without a state-issued endangered and threatened species permit (which we have).

2nd stop = Fast Water / Slippery Rocks

Paint River at Highway 69 in Crystal Falls

This area was one location that MNFI found O. howei and O. anomalus.

Initially, I stopped at the boat launch on the NW corner of the intersection on June 11, 2014.  Here the Paint River has a high flow rate with slippery rocks that are larger in size.  Walking here was a bit tricky at times. It had deeper silt along the shore upstream.  The pictures below are deceiving since the knee-deep water looks so calm.

I ended up walking to the bridge abutment in the middle and found a few exuviae, but I only saw a couple adults flying: Four-spotted Skimmer (L. quadrimculata) and Swift River Cruiser (M. illinoiensis). 

I could see a park on the east side of the river with a boardwalk, the Paint River Boardwalk which looked good for exuviae locations so I drove to that side.  

It was quite silty around the pilings of the boardwalk platforms, but I found several exuviae.  This also provided a good location for walking upstream in the river.  

 There were several adults flying including: Chalk-fronted Corporal (Ladonna julia), Springtime Darner (Basiaeschna janata), Stream Cruiser (Didymops transversa), and, at one point, I think a Cobra Clubtail (Gomphus vastus) flew in/by.  However, I saw no Ophiogomphus flying.

Here's the stripes of a male Chalk-fronted Corporal (L. julia): 

 ...and a male Stream Cruiser (D. transversa): 

Exuviae collected from under the boardwalk and pilings included one of my target species for the trip with two male Riffle Snaketail (O. anomalus), a couple clubtails (Gomphus sp.), several other snaketails (O. rupinsulensis or carolus), and 2 Stygian Shadowdragons (Neurocordulia yamaskanensis)!  

This is only the third county in Michigan to have the shadowdragons confirmed.  It's great to find some unexpected species.  Some day I'll have to try to find/"see" adult shadowdragons.