Friday, 28 May 2010
Where applicable, I will tag any new posts with odonata content so that a search can be used to filter out the feathers. If you do visit the birdy blog looking for dragonflies, please leave a comment. If I get enough comments, I will re-consider splitting again, but for now, I cannot justify the time running two blogs.
See you at Redgannet and thanks again.
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
The first water I came to was the Victoria lily pond. Dragonflies seemed to like the raised edges of the lilies and 4 species were quickly found here.
The first appeared dark from most angles but when the light caught it a deep blue was apparent. Trolling through the photographs on http://www.africa-dragonfly.net/ I found a likely suspect in Black Percher Diplacodes lefebvrii It spent much of it’s time chasing off other odes that entered it’s airspace.
The second ode of the day nearly fell prey to a young Green-backed Heron. The large blotches at the base of the hindwing, the distinctive venation and the yellow/brown triangular windows give me confidence to name it as a Phantom Flutterer Rhyothemis semihyalina.
Number three was an Aeshnid which would not sit to have his picture taken. I believe that it was the Blue Emperor Anax imperator as the only blue aeshnid I can see evidence of in Mauritius. It was present at every body of water and moist patch that I encountered.
Number four stayed at some distance but the yellow spots on the side of it’s abdomen gave me cause to consider Ringed Cascader Zygonyx torridus as an initial identity. Z torridus does occur in Mauritius and I could find no other suitable candidate until I checked the female Black Percher which is a real possibility. Close by is a shallow grassy pond, fed and drained by a stream. On prominent points around the pond, 2 types of skimmer were conspicuous. One was an Orthetrum species. The very pinched abdomen at S3 &4 possibly indicated the Epaulet Skimmer Orthetrum chrysostigma, but I rather fancy Spectacled Skimmer Othetrum icteromelas for this one. It has a dark shoulder stripe and darker anterior margins to it’s pterostigma.
The other was the increasingly familiar Violet Dropwing Trithemis annulata. This ode has gained popularity with this blogger because of it’s ease of identification. But now I come to look at the last sections of it's abdomen..... can anyone confirm please?
Perched on debris in the draining stream was my one and only zygoptera of the day I have yet to identify this one. It seemed to prefer being very close to the water. It either perched on midstream debris or on low, overhanging grass.
Lastly, a poor observation of yet another frustrating Orthetrum. I noted the stripes on the thorax, but have nothing that compares to it in any information that I can find.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
On to Powai Lake within a 10 minute taxi-ride from the hotel. The water margins were choked with water hyacinth, but there seemed to be little in the way of odonata there. Instead, where the weeds had been pulled from the water and allowed to dry, Asian Amberwings, Brachythemis contaminata, were in position on prominent stalks. These were by far the most populous dragonfly of the day, seemingly abundant all around the lake.
A rough road ran alongside the lake leaving a stagnant ditch separating it from the main road. The ditch held damselflies with another C. coromandelianum and some of what I suspect to be a Pseudagrion sp possibly microcephalum (Pseudagrion microcephalum has been confirmed by Saurabh Sawant, the mastermind of Mumbai).
One was hovering over the water and I wondered if an in-flight shot might be possible. I was pleased with the way it came out. Two other damselflies have me stumped at the moment. My usual method is to consider females and young males or colour morphs of species already seen, but I can’t find a good match. They are currently labelled Mumbai ode 01 and Mumbai ode 02, but I feel they deserve better names than that (Saurabh Sawant again comes to the rescue with Ischnura senegalensis).
Odonata species; 4
Ceriagrion coromandelianum 4, Pseudagrion microcephalum 8, Ischnura senegalensis 2, Asian Amberwing Brachythemis contaminata 150
Thursday, 28 January 2010
I started at the hotel at which we were staying, The Lord Charles at Somerset West. There is a small dam in the grounds which has plenty of lily pads and emergent growth around the edges.
First were some Common Bluetails, Iscnura senegalensis. This one was infested with mites.
Orthetrum species seem to abound in Cape Town and I was trying to get a handle on which was which.
Samways gives potentially 5 blue Orthetrum that might occur here and they are all reasonably common.
The individual above was especially dark and I believe this one to be a female.
A Common Citril, Ceriagrion glabrum was a pleasure to find.
A blue dropwing was seen at the edge of a pool and at the outflow to the river. The Navy and the Roundhook Dropwing appear pretty much identical and habitat and elevation should be considered. Pools and ponds for the Roundhook and rocky, shallow streams for the Navy. Above 700m for the Roundhook and below for the Navy. There is overlap, so they must be properly inspected in the hand which I have not yet tried to do.
Make you own mind up if you can.
At a picnic area near Paarl Rock, a small pond and garden kept me entertained for the afternoon.
I think I was high enough to call a Roundhook Dropwing, Trithemis dorsalis. In numbers was an acidic red dragonfly easily identified as the Red-veined Dropwing, Trithemis arteriosa.
Also present in large numbers was a small damselfly, the Swamp Bluet, Africallagma glaucum. Mostly it was found in the grass-like rushes beside a small stream in the gardens.
The late evening found me back at Heldeberg Nature Reserve. A small pond near the café here held my attention for quite some time. Again the Orthetrum proved confusing and the Red-veined Dropwing were abundant.
I managed a decent photo of a Two-striped Skimmer, Orthetrum Caffrum, though strictly speaking it appears to have four stripes. I suspect this may be a young male.
In the lawned area, a tiny pond has grasses surrounding it. Here was another Common Citril.
My favourite find of the week was a Boulder Hooktail, Paragomphus cognatus at Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, It was sitting on a rock beside a fynbos browned stream.It was not co-operative and I took a long while to get this shot. I chose my spot and sat to wait. As I sat, I noticed a Cape Sprite, Pseudagrion furcigerum on a mid-stream rock.
At a shallow pond further up the slope I had to get wet for another shot of a Swamp Bluet. I think that some bracketing is called for. I have been using extension tubes recently to allow super-macro focussing. The results are sometimes a little over-exposed.
Finally a Nomad, Sympetrum fonscolombii rounded out my odonata for Cape Town.
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Accra in Ghana however, is basking in 35C heat and the odonata are active through January.
There is a post on http://www.redgannet.blogspot.com/ for the bird fanciers and for those who prefer a more detailed commentary.
I am still stunted in my growth as a dragonfly spotter due to a lack of available field guides and would appreciate any assistance in identifying the following odes.
Around the African Regent Hotel in Accra, I found these three in a small patch of flowers at the entrance to the reception. Compared to the one pictured earlier from the scrubby area, this one shows a white stripe on the thorax bordered in black. Note the yellow on the upper legs opposed to plain black on the previous insect. The pterostygma is also yellow insted of black. Number three is slightly bluer than it appears in the photo. I wonder if it might be an Epaulet Skimmer, Orthetro Chrysostigma. The pterostigma seem a little elongated and I can see no sign of a yellow base to the hindwing for a perfect match, but the pinched abdomen makes me consider this as a possiblity. If it proves to be so, then no.2 is a good candidate for the female. They were only a few meters apart. Contestant number four shows from two different angles.
These last two were in the hills about 35 kms inland in the Aburi Botanical Gardens.Number five was found in a shaded area and the flash has washed out it's blue colour a little. Finally, number six was found close to no. five, but was favouring the dappled sunlit areas.
I have put out a few tentative feelers into the world of web, in the hope that somewhere out there, someone knows.
Here's hoping that someone finds this post and has some ideas.