The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Winged Wednesday XXV: Salt Marsh

Posted by | June 20, 2012

I was out on the salt marsh this morning — the sun-baked, no-shade Little River marsh — to learn a bit about Jenn Dijkstra's research and couldn't help but notice a number of winged creatures. The mosquitoes weren't too bad (they were worse in the woods on the walk down), but as soon as I reached the research transect an early green-headed horse fly sortied to my left shin. The menacing tabanid maneuvered around my counter-strikes, making several quick attacks before succumbing to an overwhelming force. I usually think of greenheads as a July annoyance, so I was unpleasantly surprised to have to battle this one.

Less distracted, I tuned into the shkreeeee-kik song of the Nelson's sparrow. Two males were singing on adjacent territories home ranges on either side of the researchers' study plot, moving point to point across the field of Spartina grasses and occasionally rising up for a flight song.

Dragonflies may have been the most prominent winged things on the marsh, but none allowed close approach. Through binoculars, I could see tiger-stripes across one dragon's thorax and bright yellow-orange streaking down another's abdomen, but labeling Odonata is not my strength. The dragonfly highlight was an enormous if nondescript female flying in tight vertical circles over a stagnant pool, sweeping the tip of her tail forward over the surface with enough power to splash water several inches toward the pool's bank. Hopefully she and her offspring will help keep greenhead populations down.

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