Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Least Bittern and Carolina Saddlebags

Yesterday, while looking for turtles, I kayaked quite extensively through the Big Creek Marsh at Long Point. In the turtle department I had many Midland Painted Turtles and 3 Blanding's Turtles, a threatened species. Naturally I also saw many birds and dragonflies. I was wishfully hoping for a rare heron/ibis to make an appearance, or perhaps even a Lilypad Forktail (damselfly) which is known from Pelee. Neither materialised. I did however have several Least Bitterns calling and one even flew up into some Phragmites offering quite a stellar view. This might have been my first Least Bittern I have ever seen perched. They are so secretive I usually just hear them calling or occasionally flying by.

Dragonflies were a little disappointing with nothing that special flying around. Some clubtails were buzzing around but wouldn't offer any good looks and I didn't take my net with me. Below is a photo of an Orange Bluet (kind of an oxymoron no?). It is longer and more slender than orange female Eastern Forktails, and the ring of orange on abdominal segment 9 is a diagnostic feature.

Today I went out again to a few inland ponds to see what was lurking around and was pleasantly surprised to find 4 Carolina/Red Saddlebags at a fishless pond near Backus Woods. I caught one and identified it to Carolina Saddlebags, and I presume that is what they all were. This is the first record of this rare southern species for Norfolk County according to the Ontario Odonata Atlas that is online (I don't think this is considered up to date, so it's probably not the first record). Two were even seen in tandem and ovipositing so perhaps we will have a permanent colony here now. Also around were some Unicorn Clubtails, and a bunch of more common species one would expect to find.

Carolina Saddlebags 

Unicorn Clubtail

Last week I had my first Spot-winged Glider, a species that usually doesn't show up until Late Summer.

Turtles are up laying eggs now so keep a watchful eye out on roads. This Snapping Turtle was laying eggs at Big Creek Marsh yesterday. There were already around 50 predated nests, a number likely to grow as more turtles lay their eggs.

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