Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Westfield River

Photos by Glenn Corbiere

 

This is a sampling of some of the dragonflies and damselflies that can be found along the Westfield River and its tributaries. It was quite difficult deciding which dragonflies and damselflies to choose from, as there are so many along this gem of a river system. I tried to pick some of the most beautiful and interesting. While some of these dragonflies and damselflies can be approached closely if you approach them stealthily, you might find a good pair of binoculars that has good close focusing ability a big help. If you have a slow internet connection, this page will be rather slow loading. I appologize if that's the case!

 

 

Enallagma carunculatum (Thule Bluet), male

Let's start out with a damselfly - the colorful and elegant Tule Bluet. In my experience, this damselfly prefers clean ponds with rocky bottoms and shorelines. I took this photo along the shoreline of the Littleville Reservoir.

 

 

 

Ophiogomphus mainensis (Maine Snaketail)
This is a male Maine Snaketail dragonfly (Ophiogomphus mainensis). In his book, "Dragonflies Through Binoculars", Sidney Dunkle called the Snaketails "The trout among dragonflies, as beautiful as the trout who share their clear stream habitats." The Maine Snaketail is one of three Snaketail species that I have found along the Westfield River and it's tributaries. I suspect a fourth species of snaketail may be present there as well, but I have not found it as of yet. This was taken July 21, 2007 on the West Branch in Chester.

 

 

 

Amphiagrion saucium (Eastern Red Damsel)
This male Eastern Red Damsel (Amphiagrion saucium) looks to be a flashy damselfly, and so it is, but only if you're looking VERY closely. It is tiny, usually less than an inch long, and it skulks low in the vegetation. It can be easily overlooked. It is uncommon in Massachusetts, but can be found at vegetated stream margins and spring upwellings adjacent to the Westfield River.

 

 

 

Whistler's Falls, Chester, MA.
In the heart of great dragonfly country! While this little waterfalls is not grand in size, it is nevertheless very beautiful, especially at times of higher water flows. I call this spot, on a most likely un-named tributary of the West Branch, Whistler's Falls, after George Washington Whistler, the architect behind the Boston & Albany rail line and it's stone arch bridges built around 1840, and still in use today. Whistler's Falls is near the double stone arch bridge in Chester.

 

 

 

Gomphus quadricolor (Rapids Clubtail), male
The Rapids Clubtail is one of the most striking of the clubtails found in the sate, and one of the most uncommon. It has been found at only a few locations around the state, I have found it several years in a row along the Main Stem of the Westfield River, and I suspect it may be found at other areas along the river system as well. This species is classified as Threatened hin Massachusetts. Like many of the clubtails, it has a short flight season, and is normally only found as an adult during the month of June.

 

 

 

Gomphus quadricolor (Rapids Clubtail), male


Another Rapids Clubtail sunning on a sun-bleached log in the middle of the river. This species was recently declared endangered in Ontario, and this particular photo was featured on the cover of ON Nature magazine.

 

 

 

Rhionaeschna mutata (Spatterdock Darner), male

Another beautiful species found adjacent to the West and Middlel branches, and likely the East branch as well. this species is uncommon in Massachusetts, indeed it is listed as Endangered. This male Spatterdock Darner, and was found in a clearing above the Littleville Reservoir.

 

 

 

Rhionaeschna mutata (Spatterdock Darner), female

Another Spatterdock Darner, a female at the same location, catching some early morning sun.

 

 

 

Argia translata (Dusky Dancer), female

This is another elegant looking damselfly that can be found along the shoreline of the Littleville Reservoir. The female Dusky Dancer has a dark body with dark brown eyes and coppery stripes along the thorax.

 

 

 

Argia translata (Dusky Dancer), male

The male Dusky Dancer is equally elegant looking. It has a nearly black body, with blue stripes along the abdomen, and purple eyes.

 

 

 

Stylogomphus albisstylus (Least Clubtail), male

Back to the Clubtail family of dragonflies, the tiny Least Clubtail can be quite numerous in the right locations with rocks and riffles. Unlike many of the other riverine clubtails, the Least Clubtail has a long flight season, from late May through late August. To appreciate this flashy little dragonfly, you need to be up close and personal, or perhaps looking at it through a pair of close focusing binoculars. This was taken on the West Branch in Chester. I suspect this dragonfly is common in appropriate areas on the Central and East Branches as well.

 

 

 

Cordulegastor maculata (Twin-spotted Spiketail), maleThe Twin-spotted Spiketail (Cordulegastor maculata), favors rocky forrest streams and small fast rivers. It can be found along all three branches of the Westfield. They can often be found in brushy areas adjacent to the river, and near smaller tributaries as well.

 

 

 

Cordulegastor diastatops (Delta-spotted Spiketail), male

The smaller and closely related Delta-spotted Spiketail, is found on smaller feeder streams and seeps.This photo was taken near the Middle Branch above the Littleville Reservoir.

 

 

 

Ophiogomphus carolus (Riffle Snaketail), male

Back to the Clubtails - Snaketails in particular. I don't know if there is a more beautiful dragonfly than the Riffle Snaketail (Ophiogomphus carolus). The Riffle Snaketail requires clean, swiftly flowing, rocky or sandy rivers. It is considered Threatened in Massachusetts. I have found this dragonfly on the Middle and West Branches, and I suspect it can be found along the East Branch as well. This male was photographed on the Middle Branch in Cummington.

 

 

 

Gomphus adelphus (Mustached Clubtail), male

The Mustached Clubtail is found on clear, swift and rocky rivers and streams, and can be found on all branches of the Westfield River. Look for it parcicularly in June and July.

 

 

 

Calopteryx maculata (Ebony Jewelwing), male

At least two different species of jewelwing can be found along the Westfield River. This is a male Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata). It is common along forested sections of all branches of the Westfield, and on many of the smaller tributaries. The Jewelwings are indeed jewel like with their iridescent greens. The have a lazy butterfly-like flight.

 

 

 

Calopteryx amata (Superb Jewelwing)

The Superb Jewelwing's (Calopteryx amata) preferred habitat is slower sections of the river, with vegetated banks. This female was photographed on the West Bank in Chester. I suspect that other species of Jewelwing may be found along the Westfield as well, although I haven't found any others as of yet.

 

 

 

Calopteryx amata (Superb Jewelwing), male

This is a male Superb Jewelwing (Calapteryx amata), also from the West Branch in Chester.

 

 

 

The Ocellated Darner is a specialty of the Westfield River system. It's a species of special concern in Massachusetts. It favors swiftly flowing rocky forested streams, so you might expect the tributaries of the Westfield River would be ideal habitat for the Ocellated Darner. It is a late season specialty, and although it can be seen with some regularity, it is rather difficult to find at rest. It is usually seen darting in and out low along the shoreline. Consider yourself lucky if you manage to find one at rest.

 

 

 

Enallagma exsulans (Stream Bluet), female

Another one of the bluets. The stream bluet is a common shoreline inhabatant of the Westfield River System. The male has the eye catching blue on black coloring that give the Bluet family its name. It has less striping along the abdomen than other bluets have, for instance the Tule Bluet above.

 

 

 

Enallagma exsulans (Stream Bluet), female

The female Stream Bluet has quite a different look from the male. It has quite a bit of green in the thorax and front of the abdomen, along with some tan striping, and blue striping along the rear of the abdomen. It is generally more sectretive than the male, and rather than being perched in a prominent location, you're more apt to find the female skulking in the streamside vegetation.

 

 

 

Gomphus descriptus (Harpoon Clubtail), female

The Harpoon Clubtail (Gomphus descriptus) is endangered in Massachusetts, and as you might expect, difficult to find. So far I have only found this species at a couple locations along the Middle Branch. This female was photographed in Chester.

 

 

 

Didymops transversa (Stream Cruiser), male

The gray and ivory tones of the Stream Cruiser (Didymops transversa) means this isn't a particularly flashy or eye catching dragonfly, but it does have a subtle beauty to it. I find it most often along forested areas of the Westfield River system, of which there are many, of course. This was along the Middle Branch in Chester.

 

 

 

Lanthus vernalis (Southern Pygmy Clubtail), female

The Pygmy Clubtails, as you might expect from the name, are among the smallest of the clubtail species. There are two species found in North America, The Northern and the Southern Pygmy Clubtail. This Southern female (Lanthus vernalis) was photographed near the Middle Branch in Chester, but the Northern Pygmy can also be found in this watershed. They are not partcularly common, and are more apt to be found along small forested tributaries.

 

 

 

Arigomphus furcifer (Lilypad Clubtail), male

Although the Lilypad Clubtail is usually thought of as a still water species, I have found them a number of times along the Westfield River, and even perched on rocks in the middle of the river, as this male in Chester is along the Middle Branch.

 

 

 

Aesha canadensis (Canada Darner), female

Several species of Mosaic Darners are common along the Westfield River, particularly the Black-tShadow Darner (Aeshna tuberculifera), Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa), Lance-tipped Darner (Aeshna constricta) and this species, the Canada Darner (Aeshna canadensis). This female was photographed near the West Branch in Chester.

 

 

 

Gomphus abbreviatus (Spine-crowned Clubtail), female

I could go on and on, but must show at least the slightest level of restraint. I'll finish with another hard to find clubtail, the Spine-crowned Clubtail. I found this species along the Middle Branch and Main Stem. This female, who is tilting her head back to check out the photographer, was photographed near the Middle Branch in Chester.

 

 

All Images are Copyrighted by Glenn Corbiere, and are not to be used without permission.


 

If you're interested in the dragonflies and damselflies of Massachusetts, the fine field guide by Blair Nikula, Jennifer Ryan and Matthew Burne is a must. "A Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Massachusetts" is available from the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. I have used this guide as an aide in listing preferred habitats.

 

 

 

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