A Day Trip for Ringed Boghaunter

Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Home earlier than planned from the SE DSA meeting, I decided to take the opportunity to look for Ringed Boghaunter Williamsonia lintneri, the earliest emerging dragonfly in the Northeast. Fabrice de Lacour and I made a long day trip to visit a known site for the species, Ponkapoag Pond in the Blue Hills of Massachusetts. It was from this location that White and Raff first found and described the larvae of this rare species. In their paper published in 1970 they found nymphs and exuviae in the vegetation adjacent to a log path crossing the bog.

We were a little worried as we crossed the golf course to get to the pond. It was 11 o'clock and despite the sun, the thirty mile an hour wind gusts made the low-sixties temperature feel even cooler. Fortunately it was a bit more sheltered at the bog edge where we found the boardwalk - a series of heavy log-planks laid in a loose line. In stretches of deeper water they would sink under one's weight getting your feet and ankles wet. Here where the first nymphs were found over a quarter century ago we began looking for the brass-colored rings of the boghaunter.

At a sunny spot a small dragonfly landed briefly on a board then took off. I asked myself, what else could it have been? Further on a couple of more small dragonflies flitted but our excitement dissipated when binoculars revealed them to be Hudsonian Whitefaces Leucorrhinia hudsonica. The boardwalk ended at the open water of the pond so we turned back.

We found more dragonflies walking the wooded trails near the pond. Along the ground sheltered from the wind, more Hudsonian Whitefaces foraged in the warm, sunny patches. There were also a few young White Corporals Ladona exusta, Belted Whitefaces Leucorrhinia proxima, and a couple of Springtime Darners Basiaeshna janata perching low and trying to warm up. Familiar Bluets Enallagma civile were the only damselflies we found, the males grey in the cold. We enjoyed seeing a handful of Eastern Pine Elfins and watched a White-M Hairstreak flash its electric blue wings as it flew.

We stopped and scrutinized each small dragonfly along the trail. Almost every one was a Hudsonian Whiteface, with pale spots on top of the abdomen until finally, here was one with pale rings, our first Ringed Boghaunter. A young male, it was sitting in the middle of the trail having just caught a small insect to eat.

We didn't find any others in the woods so at about 2 pm we returned to the boardwalk. It was warmer and the wind had died down a bit. Again we saw some small dragonflies perching on the planks but this time almost every one was a boghaunter. We happily started in taking photographs. In all we saw 8 Ringed Boghaunters including one female that dipped once in the water along the boardwalk. The last one we saw was a male on the trail adjacent to the golf course on our way out.

trip mileage: 388.5

Ponkapoag Pond Bog
Same size: Hudsonian Whiteface
White Corporal, a bit bigger.
Eastern Pine Elfin
White-M Hairstreak
On the boardwalk
Ringed Boghaunter