In early August, my husband and I were on our weekly hike up Mt. Wachusett in Princeton. It was a partly cloudy afternoon and when we reached the summit usual summit breeze was absent. As I looked around, I realized that there were hundreds, no… thousands of large dragonflies darting all around us. Some were skimming along at the level of shrubs and trees, others were easily much higher than the summit fire tower. I had never seen such a sight and tried without luck to photograph them—all I got were black blurs, or gray clouds against the blue sky. The following week, I spoke with one of our Division ecologists about this amazing sight. He told me this activity was called hilltopping and that this is the time of year when large dragonflies such as big darners and emeralds, gather together to make a migratory trip south. I had no idea that dragonflies swarmed and migrated! He said that based on some tagging studies, dragonflies can get as far south as the Carolinas. He also pointed out that the smaller hawks will also follow the swarms to feed on these insects.
I checked in the ever-handy Field Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies published by our agency to get some more information. I learned that some types of dragonflies are categorized as “spring”, “summer” or “fall” fliers. If you are interested in learning more about dragonflies, particularly identifying them, consider picking up a copy of this guide from the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. It is the first guide to cover all 166 species found in the Commonwealth, and as the range of many Massachusetts species extends well beyond our borders, will be useful to those interested in dragonflies and damselflies throughout the northeast.
Field Guide’s co-author, Blair Nikula, kindly permitted us to use this photo of a male Canada Darner, one of the likely dragonfly species we saw swarming on the summit. He recommended the following websites for beginning dragonfly enthusiasts:
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March posted on Apr 23
Girard’s Sugarhouse in Simsbury, CT. The sugarhouse was built in 1887 and produces around 250-300 gallons of syrup annually. Photo by Michael Girard March’s contest winner was Michael Girard who photographed his family’s sugarhouse in Health. Michael Girard has been a sugarmaker since 1961 when he …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February posted on Feb 25
February’s contest winner was Amanda Bettle, who photographed sheep at The Natural Resources Trust of Easton. This photo features Dog, a former 4-H show animal and sole male sheep among the nine ewes in the Natural Resources Trust of Easton (NRT) flock. It is the mission …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: January posted on Jan 26
January’s contest winner was Renee Finnegan, who photographed a pensive Highland cow at Oak Meadows Farm & Garden in Rutland. Glenn and Mary Kauppila have been farming 100 acres of land in Rutland for approximately 15 years. With the help of their three adult children, they …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: January