A second Southeastern Run, May 2 - 11.
First stop: North Carolina
The next morning I tried a nearby location that Randy said was the better spot for the clubtail. The morning started a little hazy but to my delight the sun shown brightly all morning. Near a second lake along the road I spotted a male Diminutive Clubtail but it flew away as I approached. I searched around the lake itself but saw no others. However at the outflow of a swampy area I found two males on the bank of a vegetated pond backwater. Following along the the edge of the swampy area I saw several more including females.
Dodging weather, a detour to Alabama, May 5.
Also present was a new damselfly species for me, Golden Bluet, Enallagma sulcatum. They are a bit more orange in the thorax than the more familiar and widespread Vesper Bluet, Enallagma vesperum. They have a strong black shoulder stripe unlike the Vesper.
I spent Monday, May 7 looking for females of the above species. I was pleased to find several females of the spot winged form of the Red-veined Pennant called leonora. However the females of the other species eluded me and a cool wind would reduced the evening Sepia Baskettail flight to a lone male.
The next morning I met with Jerrell Daigle and Alex Ardila-Garcia, a M.Sc. candidate from the University of Guelph in Ontario who intended to collect dragonflies for his DNA study. We tried some different habitat, a sandy stream some 40 miles west of Tallahassee. We spent most of the day on Sweetwater Creek in Liberty Co. Sweetwater Creek is an absolutely beautiful spot, easy to wade and teeming with a few characteristic species, the most common being the Common Sanddragon, Progomphus obscurus. Along the road Jerrell found a female Blackwater Clubtail, Gomphus dilatatus, a very large species with an impressive club at the end of the abdomen. I spotted a male with his even bigger club but it flew off before I could get down the steep bank to try to net it. Also along the road, Alex netted a female Twin-striped Clubtail, Gomphus geminatus, another one of my targets.
It took a little while for activity to warm up on the stream itself but soon in almost every sunny patch perched a male Blackwater Clubtail. I couldn't alway see them before I flushed them but by waiting patiently I could net them as they came back. Finding Twin-striped Clubtails was a bit tougher but I eventually saw a couple of males. Late in the afternoon, one landed on the bridge itself but in a difficult position to get the net squarely on. I was hoping by slapping the net up against him he would fly up into the net but when I swung he didn't even move. I ended up catching him with my fingers.
That evening we were at the Apalachicola River at Bristol waiting for a flight of Neurocordulias, Shadowdragons. We stopped here to look around during the day and Jerrell was excited to try the spot for Smoky Shadowdragon, Neurocordulia molesta, a species that hasn't been seen here in many years. He found two exuviae along the banks. Despite the low water levels, it was a difficult bank to catch dragonflies. You could wade a short distance but the bottom quickly drops off to deep water. I settled on a rock that jutted out over the water a bit but Jerrell and Alex elected to wade. It was late, around sunset when the Shadowdragons started flying. I could see them coursing by me about 6 feet out of reach. Jerrell managed to catch one early on but no one else was having any luck as the dragonflies were flying fast and not close to shore. I abandoned my rock to wade and had a couple of better swings but failed to catch any. Both Jerrell and Alex stepped into holes and got wet. All in all a pretty frustrating experience.
The female Jerrell caught turned out to be Cinnamon Shadowdragon, Neurocordulia virginiensis, which I needed so the evening was not a total loss.
May 9 was my last day in Tallahassee and turned out to be by last productive day of the trip. We went looking for those females I needed and eventually got Sepia Baskettail and Gray-green Clubtail but no Belle's Sanddragon. That night I went back alone to Sweetwater Creek to wait for another Shadowdragon species, Neurocordulia alabamensis. I waited in the stream, got excited then disappointed by a flight of Baskettails. In the dying light I practiced netting them and the occasional Swamp Darner, Epiaeschna heros. It was good practice because at 8:15 I saw something coming at me that appeared a bit paler than the baskettails. I took a swing and caught it and it was indeed a Alabama Shadowdragon male. I thought something like, "Okay, NOW they'll be coming out." I waited. Large pale yellow mayflies started dancing all around me on the stream, a lovely sight while I waited. I waited until 9:PM when it was too dark and probably too cool for any more dragonflight before leaving the water and driving back to the motel.
Many thanks to Jerrell Daigle!
|Road at Sandhills Gamelands|
|Red-veined Pennant with wing spots|