Journal archives for December 2017

December 01, 2017

Big Woods

Posted on December 01, 2017 03:36 by scottking scottking | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 02, 2017

Grimace

Sometimes at the onset of winter, days, landscapes, and the souls of resident humans seem to adopt a resigned grimace, knowing that four months or more of snow and cold weather must pass before the return of green leaves and spring flowers. Today, however, was not one of those days. It was fifty degrees in the afternoon when I visited the St Olaf Natural Lands where I stood at the edge of the wooded pond and watched several muskrats enjoying the open water.

Posted on December 02, 2017 03:39 by scottking scottking | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 03, 2017

Bog Panel

To Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis for the opening of Meg Ojala’s exhibition ‘From the Bog.’ As part of the opening, John Latimer, a phenologist from Grand Rapids, Katrina Vandenberg, a poet from Saint Paul, and I presented our varied knowledge and connections to bogs. My contribution consisted of two parts: my biography done in bogs and an annotated list of common bog dragonflies.

BOG DRAGONFLIES: PART ONE

I’ve held a lifelong affinity for wetlands: lakes, sloughs, swamps, bogs. A half mile from my childhood farm was a beaver dam, behind which stretched a mysterious tamarac swamp. I was always fascinated by that place, probably its inaccessibility, but also its beauty.

In college, beginning in the late 1980s, I spent some time at the Trout Lake Station in northern Wisconsin. And began, at that time, to learn more of the names of the bog plants and boreal wildflowers, having purchased my first guide book, Fassett’s Spring Flora of Wisconsin.

Then came a long interim of poetry, a digression of many years, a path I’m still wandering upon.

In 2001, I became a stay-at-home dad. Over the subsequent years, my daughter and I began spending a lot of time outside. In trying to teach her the names of plants and animals, I suddenly realized how little I knew. So I threw myself into the study of natural history. At this time the opportunity arrived to join the Minnesota Odonata Survey Project. That was ten years ago, in 2007.

As part of the MOSP, I participated in a number of week long surveys. Conducted by a crew of at least four dragonfly experts, these field weeks took place in the under-surveyed parts of the state. Several very memorable trips centered around the bogs and fens and peatlands of northern Minnesota. One particular day on one of these trips I visited a bog with Ken Tennessen, a dragonfly expert from Wisconsin, and this led to a correspondence in haiku and eventually the publication of our co-authored book, Dragonfly Haiku.

In 2011, I received a research grant to study Sympetrum madidum in northwest Minnesota. Where I fell in love with the Tallgrass Aspen Parkland and the boggy road ditches.

In 2013, I gave a talk at the Dragonfly Society of the Americas annual meeting which happened to be held that year in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Field trips after the meeting included visits to the lakes and bogs north of the Churchill River. (btw the 2018 DSA meeting is being hosted by the Minnesota Dragonfly Society)

More recently, I had a chance to help with surveys of the vast Red Lake Peatland SNA. The Red Lake Peatland contains the largest and most diversely patterned peatland in the United States. The home base for these outings was Norris Camp, a MNDNR outpost that was originally a CCC camp, located south of Warroad.

In 2016, driving Highway 1 to Finland, Minnesota, returning from a trip to North Dakota (a state that has no bogs), I stopped at a near perfect roadside bog and finally had my chance to observe North America’s smallest dragonfly, the Elfin Skimmer.

This year I feel slightly bog-deprived, my bog-time being limited to three days of dragonfly work at the beginning of June near Hoyt Lakes assisting some Minnesota Dragonfly Society researchers. But those three days, and the bogs visited, were certainly a highlight of this year’s circle.
***
Walking across a bog has been wonderfully described as similar to walking on a wet sponge. John Latimer’s description that walking on a bog is like walking on a waterbed may even be more accurate. I also like the effect of walking out of the forest past shorter and more stunted trees and into the open, which is a miniature version of trekking north of the tree line. And making it to the very edge of the open eye and peering over into the deep water always brings to mind Dostoyevsky. He wrote about the sensation of being at the edge of a precipice and that little part of your mind that wonders what it would be like to go over. The sudden depth of the bog’s eye, the light penetrating just a few feet into the peat stained waters, is an apt metaphor for anything the human mind can’t answer or comprehend.

BOG DRAGONFLIES: PART TWO

(Many species can be found at bogs and fens, this is only a partial list of some notable species.)

Subarctic Bluet: The range of this darkest of bluets only grazes the northernmost parts of Minnesota. Found at the edge of both bog and fen pools.

Emerald Spreadwing: A large metallic green damselfly.

Ebony Boghaunter: These small, black dragonflies emerge right away in spring, probably the first dragonflies to do so. Because of their preferred habitat and early emergence, this dragonfly is surely under-observed. It has been spotted less than ten times in Minnesota.

Belted, Crimson-ringed, Frosted, and Hudsonian Whitefaces: Probably the most frequently encountered skimmers at bog and fen habitats.

Four-spotted Skimmer: A circumpolar species. Common at many habitats in boreal and alpine regions in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Elfin Skimmer: A true bog-o-phile. Also the smallest North American dragonfly. A wasp mimic about the size of a horse fly.

Black Meadowhawk: A circumpolar species. A late season species.

Lake Darner: A very large dragonfly. Despite its name, this dragonfly is often found at bog ponds and fens.

Sedge Darner: Not yet known from Minnesota, but has been observed just to the north in both Manitoba and Ontario. A circumpolar species.

Subarctic Darner: Known from only a few sites in Minnesota. One site being a bog near Isabella, Minnesota. A circumpolar species.

Zig-zag Darner: A fen-o-phile that seems to have an affinity for pools and runnels where Buckbean grows.

Delicate Emerald: To many dragonfly enthusiasts, Emeralds are a highly sought after dragonfly because of their metallic green body coloration and neon-electric green eyes and because of their remote habitats. Some of the Emeralds, like the Delicate Emerald, might live their entire life in the water held in a Moose hoofprint.

Lake Emerald: A large dragonfly of boreal, bog-fringed lakes. Quite a challenge to net. It took two attempts over two years and the efforts of close to ten people to net one of these ellusive dragonflies at Winter Lake near Warroad.

Quebec Emerald: Disjunct populations of this rare dragonfly have been found in Minnesota at the Sand Lake Peatlands and the Red Lake Peatlands.

Posted on December 03, 2017 05:28 by scottking scottking | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 04, 2017

Respectable Weeds

Posted on December 04, 2017 02:55 by scottking scottking | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 05, 2017

Hall's Creek

To Hall's Creek near Black River Falls, Wisconsin, with Ami Thompson to look for dragonfly nymphs.

Posted on December 05, 2017 05:50 by scottking scottking | 24 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 06, 2017

Hall's Creek: Part Two

Photographed three of the dragonfly nymphs collected from Hall's Creek. And one stonefly.

Posted on December 06, 2017 02:55 by scottking scottking | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 07, 2017

Hall's Creek: Part Three

Posted on December 07, 2017 05:08 by scottking scottking | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 08, 2017

Spare Time

Posted on December 08, 2017 02:37 by scottking scottking | 1 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 09, 2017

Asterisms

"Aster drummondii [now Drummond’s Aster, Symphyotrichum drummondii (Lindl.) G.L. Nesom var. drummondii] is said to be hardly distinct from Aster sagittifolius [now Symphyotrichum urophyllum]; but, with me, A. drummondii has larger, thicker leaves, larger and darker blue flowers, a less brittle stem, and a more gregarious habit." – Eloise Butler, from 'Asters in the Wild Garden' (1915)

We had a number of these asters this year in our backyard garden, all volunteers. One of the reasons I collected the seed was that the flowers had been pollinated by an endangered species, the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee, that visited the flower while it was in bloom in September.

Posted on December 09, 2017 03:42 by scottking scottking | 1 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 10, 2017

Leaf Mines

Posted on December 10, 2017 03:22 by scottking scottking | 1 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment