by Sharon Godkin, 30 July 2013.
Five members jammed into Barbara Sherriff’s car on the noon ferry to Comox to meet our February speaker, Terry Thormin, for a dragonfly field trip.
By the time we arrived at Little River Park near the ferry terminal, the dragonflies were in full form skimming over the two ponds in the hot sunshine. Their flashes of colour were complemented by the background greens and coppers of the floating leaves of the Yellow Pond-lily Nuphar polysepalum, Floating-leaved Pondweed Potamogeton natans, and Watershield Brasenia schreberi, and the bright yellow emergent flowers of the Yellow Pond-lily. We had excellent views of 8 species of dragonflies and two of damselflies. A pair of Tule Bluet Damselfies deposited eggs onto the stems of the Floating-leaved Pondweed and Watershield nearly at our feet. Terry also pointed out Pacific Forktail Damselflies Ischnura cervula. The large darners: Common Green Darner Anax junius, Blue-eyed Darner Rhionaeshna multicolor, Canada Darner Aeshna canadensis and the skimmers: Fourspotted Skimmer Libellula quadrimaculata, and Eight-spotted Skimmer Libellula forensis, constantly patrolled over the water, never alighting for a photo. The meadowhawks: Cardinal Meadowhawk Sympetrum illotum, Striped Meadowhawk Sympetrum pallipes, and the Blue Dashers Pachydiplax longipennis were much more cooperative, posing on top of sticks and sedges. Terry pointed out the characteristic way in which the Blue Dashers and other dragonflies, but not damselflies, hold their wings at rest, angled forward and downwards rather than out to the side as other dragonflies do most of the time.
Next Terry piloted us up the Strathcona Parkway to a small bog 9 km up the slopes of Mt. Washington to see the species that prefer higher elevation habitats. Entering the bog via a deep ditch, we were greeted by a drift of the spectacular blue King Gentian Gentiana sceptrum spangled with White Swamp (Douglas) Gentian Gentiana douglasiana, the maroon globes of Great Burnet Sanguisorba officinalis, green spires of Slender Bog Orchid Platanthera stricta, white twisted spikes of Ladies’ Tresses Spiranthes romanzoffiana, and the erect red capsules of Sticky False Asphodel Tofieldia glutinosa, all in a carpet of Deer Cabbage Fauria crista-galli and Great Burnet leaves. The shallow central pond appeared farther into the bog, studded with emergent Buckbean Menyanthes trifoliata with a few showy white flowers, and a few Yellow Pond-lily leaves. It was rimmed by colourful Spagnum mosses and two species of sparkling dewy red carnivorous plants: the Round-leaved Sundew Drosera rotundifolia and the Great (long-leaved) Sundew Drosera anglica. Some Western Bog-laurel Kalmia microphylla ssp. occidentalis plants still had a few rose-pink saucer-shaped flowers. Whorls of the pale green follicles of Fern-leaved Goldthread Coptis asplenifolia fanned above mats of its shiny deep green finely-dissected leaves, which were mostly hidden beneath the glaucous-green leaves of Bog Blueberry Vaccinium uliginosum. These were often clustered around the bases of the dwarfed conifers, Mountain Hemlock Tsuga mertensiana and Yellow-Cedar Chamaecyparis nootkatensis. Three new species of dragonflies and some newly emerged Spreadwing damselflies (likely Spotted, Lestes congener) entertained us here. The striking Crimson-ringed Whiteface dragonfly Leucorrhinia glacialis basked on the Buckbean leaves, while the Sedge Darner Aeshna juncea whizzed by. The Ringed Emerald Somatochlora albicincta made multiple passes, but paused to hover briefly so we could enjoy its brilliant emerald eyes.
After Barbara and Liz left for Nanaimo, Terry drove the rest of us to the Griffin Pub in Comox, where we treated him to dinner. He ended this wonderful field day by delivering us to the 7.15pm ferry to Powell River, for which many thanks. Don’t forget to visit Terry’s photography site to see his fantastic photos at http://terrythormin.smugmug.com