Thursday 10 September 2009

High Park, Toronto

High Park in Toronto is described in the respective post on
Grenadier Lake forms the western boundary of the park and is fed from a stream and storm water from the city of Toronto. It’s banks are thinly covered with reeds and rushes with a small reeded marsh at the top end. Other small ponds are formed from dams on a storm water stream running through the eastern part of the park.
I saw the first flight at 08.30. A pair of ponds in the northeast sector of the park should have been very productive at the right time of day, but I passed through too early. They would be worth a look when the sun is higher on my next visit. Grenadier Lake was teeming with Blue Dashers, which are fast becoming the most widespread odonata for this observer so far. On this occasion, I saw that the wings were more shaded than I had previously noted. The specimens that I had observed in LAX, MIA and PHX had been much cleaner of wing.
This caused me to look more carefully and I saw amongst the shaded wings, some clearer ones. These belonged to the Eastern Meadowhawk.
Away from the lake are some streams and damp meadows. Here I met the female Eastern Meadowhawk. Thinking I had a new species, I was determined to get a good photo and she proved to be very obliging. She had caught and was eating a small, blue fly It was at this point that I checked my “remaining frames” counter and saw that it had hardly changed. I had set the definition very low last week and had not changed it back. All of the pictures taken this week have been at 1mb or less. Changing the resolution back to high, the pictures were over 4mb.The definition is compromised when put onto the blog, so the difference would only be obvious when the subject is heavily cropped, but it is very noticeable on the monitor with the full size picture. A Green Darner settled into the grass for a close-up. A saddlebags flew over in silhouette but I am not yet proficient enough to tell which.
At the southern end of the park, a storm water pond overflows a weir and ends up in lake Ontario. Here, were hundreds of odonata. 12-spotted Skimmers, Green darners, Eastern Meadowhawks and Blue Dashers. The zygoptera were too far away on the whole to get a good look at. This one could be a Familiar Bluet, but I am going to need more practice identifying before I claim him in red.

ps. when in Toronto, visit the Open Air Book and Map Shop. It is a basement shop down some stairs at the corner of Toronto and Adelaide. It is exactly what it claims to be and even with agoraphilia like mine, I find it a pleasure to spend hours inside. Bird books and mammal encyclopaedia, insects, travel. There are no books about cooking or teen idols, no magazines about overexposed celebrities, just outdoor books and maps.

Newark, Woodbridge

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
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,