Thanks to the dozen or so Master Naturalists who joined us for the June 24th Naturalist Meet-up at Todd Lake.
Chapter Advisor Paul Bugas provided a great history and overview of flood control dams in Virginia and the National Forests. Most recently there are efforts to decommission older dams that are in need of repair rather than repair them. He also brought several canoes so we could explore Todd Lake.
Our enthusiastic leader, Sandy Greene, challenged us to find exuvia, the exoskeletons left behind when a dragonfly makes its final transition from nymph to adult. These small, brownish, empty bodies can often be seen on grasses, twigs and rocks at the water’s edge. This ephemeral evidence of dragonflies eluded us though dozens of species patrolled the edge of the pond.
Todd Lake is one of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail sites that our chapter has adopted. Over the past few years we have been monitoring the sites of the North River Loop of the Mountain Trail. This year we are adding the Forest Trails Loop that has 7 additional sites including Montgomery Hall Park, Shenandoah Mountain, and Augusta Springs Wetland Trail. If you are interested in adopting a site as one of your projects, contact Cheryl Shull (North River Loop) or Sandy Greene (Forest Trails Loop). For more information about other trails, loops and sites, see https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/vbwt/
With nets in hand, we wrapped up the day by capturing and attempting to identify the numerous species of dragonflies and damselflies hunting along the shore. Some of the species we were able to distinguish before the day’s end were the common whitetail, the widow skimmer, the common darner, and the comet darner. A bigger challenge was narrowing down which of the 40 bluet damselflies zipped by us as we poured over field guides.
Thanks again to all who joined us. Watch for more Headwaters Master Naturalist Meet-ups in the future!
– Chip Brown, Chair, Program/Hosting Committee
Top photo by Carl Droms of Janet Joseph and Malcolm Cameron
Second photo by Cheryl Shull of Sandy Greene
Find more beautiful photos taken by David Wendelken like this one of a Calico Pennant dragonfly (above) of finds along Todd Lake by scrolling from HERE on facebook.
Photos below by Carl, Cheryl, and Sandy: