This past Sunday we decided to stay somewhat local. We had traveled to the Berkshires on on Friday and done the southeast coast on Saturday, so we thought we would poke around in Wendell, MA which is just slightly northwest of Quabbin. The area is loaded with marshes and swamps and we figured it would be good for dragonflies. We also wanted to explore the Wendell State Forest and then end up at the Millers River in Erving to check on odes there.
As we continued along Jennison Rd. making our way to the state forest, we stopped at a small cemetery (South Cemetery) which had yet another boggy marsh nearby. Although I didn't get a photo we had a couple of Elfin Skimmers in the cemetery, along with this Eastern Pondhawk perched on a low gravestone.
I was crushed. It wanted so much for it to have a happy ending. We looked and looked, but couldn't refind him. As we started to focus on the other dragonflies flying around, Mark spotted our little friend very close to shore and scooped him up in the net. He looked totally drowned, but we decided to place him in a sunny spot and see what happened as he dried out. I was able to get some terrific shots with my macro lens and feel pretty certain that this was a Twin-spotted Spiketail -- a new species for us. While we thought he had passed at this point, about 10 minutes later when I went to check on him, he had crawled onto a log and was obviously still alive. At this point I told Mark I wanted to leave before anything else happened and I could just tell myself he recovered and flew away!
So while that ended happily, unfortunately when I got home and downloaded the photos I inadvertently ERASED all the photos from my camera with the macro lens before downloading them. This is the first time I have ever done that and didn't even realize it until yesterday morning when I was cropping photos and kept going " hey, where are the shots I took of the rescued ode?"....."where's the Fragile Forktail; I know I took a close-up"..."hey, where's the scenery show I took of the rock formation in Wendell SF" and so on and so on. Lesson learned: wait at least a day before erasing what's on the camera.
After the tension of that rescue, we moved down toward Wickett Pond and took a couple of paths near the pond. It was great to be in an area with so few other people, and even though the pond was quite large we saw only a couple of kayakers and one couple with a toddler in a canoe. And we only ran into two people on mountain bikes and one woman walking a dog. At the pond we did have lots of dragonflies though. BTW, there was a really nice photo of Wickett Pond taken with the other camera, so you'll just have to imagine it for now!
After leaving the state forest we headed northwest along Farley Road to get to a bridge across the Millers River. Along Farley Road though we came across a great marsh with an active Great Blue Heron rookery...and lots more odonates.
Our last stop of the day was a great stretch of the Millers River in Erving near the wildlife management area. Last year we were excited to find a good number of Powered Dancers here, and we hoped to repeat the experience. The first thing we noticed (and we saw this last year as well) was the amount of exuvia on the rocks in the river...both close to shore and farther out. In the photo below you can see at least two different cast skins left behind as the dragonfly undergoes metamorphosis from a larva living and breathing underwater to an aerial-feeding insect. This transformation is absolutely mind-blowing to me. I would love to see a dragonfly emerging from the last larval stage and fly away....just haven't been lucky enough yet to see it.