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Friday, August 6, 2010

More Insects at Westside Lake

Intrigued by all I learned about Odonata after yesterday's visit, I decided to go back to Westside Lake today to see what else I could discover. I spent 45 minutes there and had zero luck with the dragonflies, but still found some cool stuff.

After looking at a few more online resources I think the damselfly I posted about yesterday is a bluet (Enallagma spp.). There weren't as many of them as yesterday, but they were still abundant:

Yesterday I only noticed one species of damselfly, but today I saw a Pacific forktail (Ischnura cervula), identified by its yellow-green face and the four pale blue spots on the dorsal side of the thorax:

I was also able to photograph this wasp, which I also saw yesterday. It's a bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata), which is in the same genus as the yellowjackets. It looked kind of benign to me at the time - no buzzing, no distinct stinger - so I happily co-existed with it. I'm glad I didn't know at the time that they are very protective of their nesting sites and will sting intruders multiple times if disturbed!

The hornet is crawling on a crab shell. I wonder what brought a crab all the way up from the shore to the lake?

An interesting note I learned about hornets from the Wikipedia article on the bald-faced hornet is that it is a term that means different things in the US vs. the UK. In the American sense, hornets are defined as building paper nests, as the bald-faced hornet does. A hornet in the British sense must belong to the genus Vespa, which the bald-faced hornet does not.

While I wasn't able to get any dragonfly photographs, the bird sightings made up for it by being better than yesterday. The pair of female mallards and the female hooded merganser were still present, but this time there were half a dozen wood ducks, one of which got chased across the pond by a dragonfly! I also saw a bald eagle fly overhead, a Wilson's warbler on the island in the middle of the lake, and a flock of feeding cedar waxwings:

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