ophiogomphus-susbehcha-860x510-2

Ophiogomphus susbehcha (St. Croix Snaketail) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

ENVISION SOMETHING YOU REALLY LOVE but only get to experience now and then. Shooting the moon in hearts. Live chamber music. Big Papi hitting a walk-off homer. Fresh strawberry pie.

Many of us chasing dragonflies here in Wisconsin live for big flights of gomphids (clubtails). Yeah, I know, some blog readers don’t fashion to these close-up photos of dragonflies. That’s okay. I’ll present a nice butterfly shot below. (Recognize that I’m writing here for two audiences: hardened dragonflyers and “ordinary” folks.)

ophiogomphus-howei-860x510But on the Chippewa River in Bruce, Wisconsin, with the aroma of grilled cheese wafting around us, these dramatic dragonflies, some of them among the most elusive on the continent, came to us like a harvest of strawberries. Many of us from the East never see clubtail flights like this. Turn in any direction and see a clubtail. The place was lousy with Gomphus lineatifrons (Splendid Clubtail). Gomphus adelphus (Mustached Clubtail), Gomphus quadricolor (Rapid Clubtail). Macromia illinoiensis (Swift River Cruister), not a clubtail, was dirt common – swarms of them (I’m not kidding). 

Yet few of us yesterday had the good fortune of Darrin “O’Phio” O’Brien. An astute field naturalist from Michigan, Darrin is swinging a hot net. (He swung better than Miguel Cabrera yesterday.) Darrin netted our fist Ophiogomphus susbehcha (St. Croix Snaketail). That’s him above – the dragonfly, not Darrin. A great find, this dragonfly is restricted to only two rivers in Wisconsin and one each in Maryland and Virginia.

miggyDuring lunch, Darrin landed an Ophiogomphus howei (Pygmy Snaketail) – a clubtail of your dreams. We ended up with five We also encountered O. rupinsulensis (Rusty Snaketail), O. carolus (Riffle Snaketail), and O. anomalus (Extra-striped Snaketail) at the river.

I’d post a photo of Darrin, but I can’t for the life of me find my point-and-shoot, which I used to grab a few shots of him yesterday. Anyway, Darrin’s an aerospace engineer, close enough to a rocket scientist if you ask me, which means he’s good with flying things. Until I find my camera, here’s Miggy, the best hitter in the world, swinging for the fences. (Added June 15: Okay, I found my point-and-shoot today. So my photo of Darrin is below.)

Meanwhile, another group wandering north into peatlands found Williamsonia fletcheri (Ebony Boghaunter) still on the wing.

Okay, I gotta go. We’re indoors for scientific presentations and DSA business today. Oh, and the grilled cheese – that came from a plant that makes powered cheese for Cheetos on the river. Wisconsin – America’s Dairlyand. For us, it’s America’s Dragonflyland.

Macromia illinoiensis (Swift River Cruister) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Macromia illinoisensis (Swift River Cruister) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Pine Elfin (Callophrys niphon) / © Bryan Pfeiffer / Seems kinda late for it to be flying.

Pine Elfin (Callophrys niphon) / © Bryan Pfeiffer / Seems kinda late for it to be flying.

Darrin O'Brien

Darrin O’Brien