Monday, November 22, 2010

November Meadowhawks

November is a difficult time to find dragonflies in New Jersey, particularly after overnight lows start dropping consistently into the 30s. Most of the dragonflies I see this late in the season are Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum) like the one above. Meadowhawks can be tough to identify, but the almost entirely red abdomen makes this species relatively easy.

The yellow face is also a clue to this meadowhawk's identity. This dragonfly was at Trenton Marsh on Saturday. There were quite a few of them flying around in the border between the woods and marsh.

Not all November dragonflies are Autumn Meadowhawks, though. When I was at Cape May Point State Park last week, I saw this dragonfly flying around next to the red trail boardwalk. I figured that it was probably an Autumn Meadowhawk or a member of a difficult meadowhawk complex. As it turns out, this is a member of another species, the Blue-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum ambiguum). A few markings point towards this species: the turquoise blue face and dark blue eyes, the gray thorax, and the red abdomen with black bands around each abdominal segment.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk is a less common species in New Jersey than some of the other meadowhawks. According to the species page on NJodes, most of the records in the state were south of Monmouth County. November 15 is also a very late date for the species; prior to my sighting, the late observation date listed at NJodes was September 24. Thanks to Patrick Belardo and Allen Barlow for help confirming the identification.