A warm, clear day turned my birdwatching morning into a dragonfly frenzy in Newark this week. A small slow stream runs through Merrill Park South and a wide, muddy bend proved very productive. For details of how to get to Merrill Park South, consult the birdy blog http://www.redgannet.blogspot.com/
First was a dragonfly with large blotches on its wings which flushed from the grass above the bank, then settled on a rock to have its picture taken. It was identified as a Common Whitetail female The rocks created a semi-dam across part of the stream and allowed me to get out into the middle of the river and look back towards the bank. Two forms of what I assumed must be pennants of some sort were dog-fighting with each other over the shallow bend in the stream. One was the male of the Common Whitetail. They would settle from time to time, but at a distance, so I had to get my feet wet and muddy again to get close enough for a picture.This one is a 12-spotted Skimmer The dog-fights continued with, at one point, as many as eight odonata of 4 different species (the pennants, Blue Dasher and a Green Darner) chasing each other up and down the stream. A video would have been more use than a stills camera.
For reasons of incompetence, the pictures may seem low resolution this week. Simpletons in the settings department are to blame. On some floating mats of weed, were a couple of different zygoptera. They were very common in the muddy bay, laying eggs among the weeds. I now know that one of the damselflies was an Eastern Forktail and I am assuming that the layers were females. Another was very distinctive with a violet abdomen and a blue tip.It proved to be a Variable Dancer.
Evergreen Meadows is a private estate in neighbouring Edison. Beside the approach road is a boggy patch that provided more rich pickings. The pennants showed again and a red meadowhawk sat well for me. There is a lot of controversy and confusion about red meadowhawks. A number of species are very similar and cannot safely be separated in the field. So unless anyone can tell from this photo, it will remain a mystery.
Next, I cycled on to Menlo Park which has a lake with formal edges and no bankside vegetation for the most part. The island end provides a small proportion of bankside that is better suited to dragonflies and they love the stakes around the island, but sadly, so do Green Herons. Eastern Amberwings and Blue Dashers were very common. Soft floating weed provided ovipositing opportunities and even a feather sufficed as a perch in the absence of anything else at the formal end of the lake. There is a confusing set of bluets that ought to be examined in the hand for definitive identification. I think that this is possibly a Familiar Bluet, but since it has such close look-alikes, this may prove a hasty assumption.
If I can put a name to all the odes that I saw today, I could end up with my biggest ever list of 14 species.
Odonata species 8
Variable Dancer, Familiar Bluet, Eastern Forktail, Fragile Forktail, Green Darner, 12-spotted Skimmer, Common Whitetail, Blue Dasher, Meadowhawk sp, Eastern Amberwing,