Subj: June 26 - July 1 in Maine
For a little variety I asked Kristine Wallstrom if she could write a short account of our recent trip to Maine. She is president of the NY chapter of NABA (North American Butterfly Association) and enjoys observing, identifying, and photographing all manner of flora and fauna, from wildflowers to birds to tiger beetles.
Tuesday, June 26
Kristine omitted the part where I got the car stuck in the mud on the way to the 1000 Acre Heath. The shoulder looked deceptively dry as I steered to avoid a couple of large rocks in middle of the dirt road. It was hot dirty work but we dug ourselves out again. Broad-tailed Shadowdragon, Neurocordulia michaeli was one of my primary targets so despite our long and exhausting day,we had to take advantage of the warm temperatures and try for them at dusk. The Stygian Shadowdragon, N. yamaskensis was the more conspicuous of the two Neurocordulia species on the river. They flew faster, and often over calmer stretches of water making them easier to see than the michaeli, which flew over the riffles. Michaeli flew slower and it surprised me when one seemed to float slowly upwards at me and I caught him chest high. With michaeli I have seen every shadowdragon species this year and only failed to collect N. molesta.
Wednesday, June 27
We're back to the Penobscot River in the evening, this time having eaten first (when restaurants are still open) and with insect repellant! It's after 8pm and things are flying in beautiful evening light. I manage to net-rescue a N. yamaskanensis that was stunned by a leaping fish and was floating downstream with the current. Placed on vegetation, it whirred itself dry. Just as it was getting too dark to see well, Ed scoops up a female N. michaeli. A great ending to a long day.
My itinerary was drawn from the previous travels and discoveries of Paul Brunelle and Blair Nikula. Blair had detailed a couple of trips to the region in the DSA publication, Argia, and what he found was essentially my target list. The rarest emerald they found was Quebec Emerald, Somatochlora brevicincta. The male and female netted by Jeremiah Trimble in 1999 were the first U.S. records of this species. I hoped for but did not expect to find it myself but caught a male feeding back and forth along the road at 1000 Acre Heath. In addition to the Emeralds Kristine listed above we also caught S. walshi (Brush-tipped), S. franklini (Delicate), and S. forcipata (Forcipate). It was a beautiful evening on the Penobscot except for the lightning in the distance. Not exactly what you want to see while wading in water, holding a metal net pole, and underneath a powerline stretching over the river.
Thursday, June 28
Weather had a lot to do with us heading north that day. We had hoped for sunnier conditions as the hot and humid weather had been replaced by cool temperatures and clouds, conditions not favorable to dragonfly hunting.
Friday, June 29
Hoping for more Snaketails flying on the Machias River at the campground now that it's afternoon, we're not disappointed. Ed catches male and female Ophiogomphus anomalus, Tom nets a Helocordulia uhleri, and finally a male O. howei is Ed's prize. What a perfect little green creature! Such a beautiful little feisty thing! This was the only time that I found collecting painful (I wanted to open the bag!). Occasionally, a female howei would come down from the trees and dip a few times, then shoot right back up and out of sight.
The Pygmy Snaketail, Ophiogomphus howei was high on my list of things to see. Earlier in the day I thought I saw some small snaketails flying on the river. Not able to catch any I wondered if it was just wishful thinking. Size is so deceptive in the field and there were plenty of "full"-sized Snaketails, mostly Brook, O. aspersus at that spot, and Tom had caught a Maine, O. mainensis nearby. When we returned to the campground area, numerous snaketails were flying over the riffles but not perching on any of the rocks. I had seen them here earlier in the day but did not catch any. I waded out and finally managed to net one which turned out to be O. anomalus, Extra-striped Snaketail. But there! That one looked smaller. Was it just my imagination or the light? One worked its way upstream and I pancaked the net on him. Even through the wet dark mesh of the net I could see the amber wing bases of the Pygmy.
Saturday, June 30
Sunday, July 1
Thanks to Kristine Wallstrom and Tom Fiore for their help and companionship on this 1700 mile trip. Many thanks to Blair Nikula for all his assistance, advice and directions.
|6 Maine Snaketail species|
|Kristine on the Machias|
|Northern Metalmark: from CT on the way home|