Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dragonflies along the Delaware and Raritan Canal

Despite the record-setting heat wave,* I was out yesterday morning for some exercise and wildlife watching along the Delaware and Raritan Canal near Blackwells Mills. Cicadas were out in full voice, while birds were mostly quiet. In fact, were it not for a Carolina Wren near the very end of the walk, I would have gone the whole trip without hearing any birdsong. I believe the last time that happened was probably sometime in the winter. The heat and the loud cicadas probably had something to do with that, but it is clear that the breeding season is winding down, and along with it the need for singing.

Dragonflies were plentiful along the canal towpath, with the full range of species represented from Slaty Skimmer ...

... to Slaty Skimmer.

The few dragonflies that were not Slaty Skimmers seemed to be mostly Widow Skimmers, like this male. While the diversity was relatively low, I like both of these species, so I was happy to see so many of them along the canal.

I was surprised to see very few Blue Dashers and only one Eastern Pondhawk. Normally these guys are pretty numerous.

Many dragonflies were cruising back and forth over the canal without landing very often. Some were clubtail-shaped; others looked more like skimmers or darners. I was not able to get positive IDs for most of the fliers. However, this dragonfly landed just long enough for me to take a couple photos. I think it is a Dragonhunter, which would be a life dragonfly for me.

Besides the dragonflies, there were quite a few damselflies in action. Most of them seemed to be Blue-fronted Dancers, like this female.

* Here is a graphical representation of the last week's weather.