The red dragons always usher in the end of the season – first the Ruby Meadowhawks, then the Cherry Faced and White Faced Meadowhawks, and lastly the Yellow Legged Meadowhawks. And so it is no surprise as I rolled into the Allegan Forest last Thursday that Yellow Legs were out in abundance.
But still, it was a surprise to see a lot of dragonflies out at all – and a pleasant surprise at that.
The Yellow Legs are a bit difficult to track. Most perching dragonflies make a shot hop when they are spooked, and land again nearby. Tracking them is a pretty simple matter. The Yellow Legs on the other hand tend to dart up high in the air, move off in one direction, and then zip down to a low perch, often just inches above the ground.q
I started out the day in the coreopsis field off 46th street – though the coreopsis are long gone. It was a warm day with clear sun, and the field had several large darners lumbering overhead. I arrived at about 9:30 in the morning, and as the sun burned off the dew many Yellow Legged Dragons emerged. Their habit of perching low the to ground made them difficult to spot – except when spooked – but the males seems to be competing for territory and were busy buzzing at each other, which of course gave away their location.
Also in the field I also found a large argiope spider – a female with the dead remains of a male stuck in the web near her. It was not as large as most argiope I’ve encountered – body length was maybe about two inches in total – but it was a nice catch.
Talk about getting low to the ground – it was in a small web only about 6 inches above the sandy soil, and was angled to be slightly upside down. I really had to get the camera down into the dirt to angle the lens up for a shot.
From there I hopped over to the old farmstead off 48th street. The marsh is again drying up, and I’ve been disappointed to see steadily diminishing dragonfly activity there these last few weeks. I walked into the heart of the marsh, where there are still a few square yards of open water. Unfortunately, a few white faced meadowhawks buzzing around in the grass were the only interesting subjects.
This week – the third in September – is projected to have hot, summer like weather. Hopefully this will offer a chance for a few more dragon shots, before the season comes to a close.