Photo: my first Widow Skimmer of the season. Quite beat up, wingwise, which didn’t seem to affect his flight. He did seem to rest a lot, when compared to the two others I watched.
Seeing the Widow Skimmer yesterday at the town pond was just one element of an incredible day, which didn’t begin that way. At all. I started around ten, up the trailhead across from the fire station, past Castle Rock, up to the Professor Valley Overlook, down past Queen the Erotic Juniper, and out. Then I crossed Loop Road, and headed across the rocks, through the dead cheatgrass, between sage, to the north end of the pond. Nothing. Not a gnat, let alone a dragonfly. Absence as presence. I couldn’t believe it. I walked south along the east edge to the outlet gate and sat down in the dirt. Finally, a Great Mossy Darner appeared, alone. Then two meadowhawks and then and then. And then one of the great dragonfly days ever.
I’ve often thought that a mysterious substance must exist, a dimensional ether, semi-tangible, that my simple existence disrupted, reverberated, sending all the beings into hiding. Once I’d settled in the ether calmed and smoothed, reconstituted. Peace returned to the pond.
Then dozens of Verigated Meadowhawks ovipositing (the males attached to the back of the female’s head as she tapped the pond’s surface to drop an eggs—If she drops one egg each time she ‘taps’ the surface, she left 50 eggs/minute during one period.) A pair of tiny damselflies was also there laying eggs. Three male Widow Skimmers passed in front of me involved in a spectacular dance (battle?). As always, Great Mossy Darners seemed to be on patrol, on the lookout for any possible danger. And the Flame Skimmers! OMG, my first of the year, three of them, no questions asked. The height to which a dragonfly rises is proportional to its size, which makes sense. The darners reach ten meters, higher than the powerline which crosses the pond. The meadowhawks, two to three meters. The tiny bluets, inches.
I’d struggled wondering why I’d seen so few dragonflies at the pond this summer. Now, I think that the extremely wet winter and spring may have delayed their ‘flight seasons’.