BY KAIJA GAHM*
In early August, members of Bird Conservation teamed up with regional scientists to survey dragonflies and damselflies at Waseeka Wildlife Sanctuary in Hopkinton. Dragonflies and damselflies are members of the order Odonata, and may be referred to as odonates, or “odes” for short.
Waseeka covers 230 acres, including a forest and a sizeable pond that has been extended by Beavers in recent years. With extensive wetland vegetation and trails running along the pond edge, Waseeka offers ideal habitat to observe odonates.
The goal of Mass Audubon’s ongoing odonate monitoring project is to assess ode diversity across various sanctuaries. Keeping track of odonate presence and diversity is a good way to monitor the health of Mass Audubon’s water bodies because odonates play key roles in aquatic food webs. Also, their pollution-sensitive larvae are good indicators of water quality.
Overall our day was very productive, we identified 19 species of dragonflies and damselflies, including six that had not previously been recorded at Waseeka. Highlights included huge Green Darners and the tiny Slender Bluet. Learn more about these fascinating insects here.
In addition to the odonates, we were able to identify some plant species that were new to the Sanctuary inventory including Southern Bog Clubmoss, Rattlesnake Plantain and Pink Lady’s Slipper. We also saw eighteen species of butterflies including three swallowtails and six skippers. Other spectacular sightings included a Pickerel Frog and a Gray Tree Frog.
Birding highlights were a pair of Eastern Towhees, an Osprey circling overhead carrying a fish, a Broad-winged Hawk, four Cedar Waxwings, and several Eastern Wood-Pewees.