windblown world

On Monday, we hiked one of our favourite trails (The Point Trail at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park) to look for invertebrate activity. Today’s post is the first of two parts with the rest to follow tomorrow.

The afternoon was cool with a few showers just before we set out on the trail. Winds were brisk along the shores of Big Rideau Lake, especially around Murphy’s Point. Last week, I posted some observations on insect behaviour on a windy day here at the farm. Monday, we saw much more dramatic evidence of this type of activity while hiking the north side section of the trail. Just off the tip of the point, in an area where the trail passes through older Beech trees surrounded by numerous small Beech saplings, we began to find Common Baskettail (Epitheca cynosura) dragonflies clinging to the branches, twigs and leaves of the saplings which were being buffeted by the winds. With just a minimal amount of searching, we found one, two or even three dragonflies sheltered within each sapling (see above and below — click on images to see larger views).

We counted upwards of 15 dragonflies, but in all likelihood, there were far more in the vicinity as we just checked the saplings that grow beside the trail. That section of forest is dotted with dozens more trees, and I have no doubt that most of them were also sheltering a dragonfly or two. Common Baskettails are known to fly and hunt in swarms, so it’s not so unusual to find quite a number in one location. What was of interest to us was that the dragonflies were all clinging to the south side of each bush and some were getting a pretty wild ride in the more open patches where the winds were strongest.

Also found on a bush was a large Crane Fly (Family Tipulidae). Its legs were fanned out to grip the edges of a leaf. Crane Flies tend to be quite shy and generally move off when observed. However, this one must have decided that it would take its chances with me rather than risk being blown away in the powerful breeze.

Tags: , , ,

  • Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Trackback URI:
  • Comments RSS 2.0

6 Responses to “windblown world”

  1. Jimmy Says:

    Great photos…and thanks I learned something aboutthe baskettails…

  2. robin andrea Says:

    What great observations, Bev. So interesting to see that they find southside of the leaf when the winds are buffetting from the north. Very smart behavior. Now you are going to have to head out into the forest when the winds blow strong from the south. Beautiful photographs.

  3. Leslie Says:

    Your photographs again leave me just staring in awe. I only saw the dragonfly on the leaf in the first image and when I clicked to view large, the other two just jumped out at me! Much like looking at a pond and seeing nothing, and then suddenly lots of things begin catching your attention.

  4. Wayne Says:

    Bev – my reaction to the dragonfly gathering was the same as Leslie’s – oh, that’s nice, and then WOW.

    So now I have to look out for baskettails! I’m busily identifying a nice blue one for today.

    Have you seen any phantom craneflies?

  5. burning silo Says:

    Jimmy – Thanks! Yes, there are lots of interesting little things about Baskettails. Several of the species like to grip onto twigs with their legs. The larger Prince Baskettails like to hang vertically sheltered by branches, so they are often not seen. I’ll try to post a photo of that sometime soon to show what I mean.

    RA – Yes, isn’t it interesting how they shelter on the lee side of a bush. When I’m out looking for insects, I try to think like they would – by looking under leaves and inside bushes on windy days. It’s amazing what you can find!

    Leslie and Wayne – Yes, I know what you mean about the visual thing of not seeing the three dragonflies in the bush. I think that’s part of the secret of how these creatures manage not to be seen — their abdomens look more like small twigs when you first look at them. At first, when we began looking for the dragonflies in the bushes, we couldn’t really find them that easily, but after the first few, we started to be able to decipher what our eyes were seeing and they became easy to spot. So much about nature challenges us to change how we see. And Wayne, I look forward to seeing your blue dragonfly! And yes, I have seen phantom craneflies — there’s a weird little creature if there ever was one. I know of a place where I can find dozens of them quite reliably throughout summer. Unfortunately, they’re real devils to photograph well. Maybe this year! (-:

  6. Burning Silo » Blog Archive » Circus of the Spineless - Edition #9 Says:

    […] 2.) In part one and part two of Windblown World at Burning Silo, we discover where the insects go when weather is less than pleasant. […]