Former Bombay Hook NWR Manager Visits
Terry Villanova (photo above) stopped in the Refuge Visitor Center with family yesterday for a brief visit and discovered former colleague, and now Manager, Tom Reed here. Terry was in the area with friends and family for a wedding. As you can see in the photo Terry is still an “Ambassador” for the Refuge System in retirement. She and her husband enjoy visiting Refuges all over the country, though the Bombay Hook area is still considered “home”. Terry has found “good folks” are still managing all the Refuges. Before departing for the next Refuge experience, the Villanova party discovered a pair of Lewis’s Woodpecker on the Refuge…a first for them :-)
It was good to host a dedicated Service employee from an iconic Refuge. Continued wildlife watching excellence…and come back soon :-)

                                 Former Bombay Hook NWR Manager Visits

Terry Villanova (photo above) stopped in the Refuge Visitor Center with family yesterday for a brief visit and discovered former colleague, and now Manager, Tom Reed here. Terry was in the area with friends and family for a wedding. As you can see in the photo Terry is still an “Ambassador” for the Refuge System in retirement. She and her husband enjoy visiting Refuges all over the country, though the Bombay Hook area is still considered “home”. Terry has found “good folks” are still managing all the Refuges. Before departing for the next Refuge experience, the Villanova party discovered a pair of Lewis’s Woodpecker on the Refuge…a first for them :-)

It was good to host a dedicated Service employee from an iconic Refuge. Continued wildlife watching excellence…and come back soon :-)

                                           Family Wildlife Watching
The Staats family (pictured above) of Missoula, Oregon and Pennsylvania are having their annual get together. Family activities include hiking, and especially, birding and photography. So at 10 am this morning the Staats were on the County Road viewing Pond 6 for waterbirds et al. It was pretty slow birding as many of the nesting waterfowl have dispersed. An added challenge was the wildfire smoke out of Washington and Oregon, you can barely make out the Bitterroot Mountains in the photo above. The Staats eventually moved on to the forested habitat of the Wildlife Viewing Area where several breeding birds were still singing and visible…in exchange for a small amount of blood for the mosquitoes :-) These folks had a great attitude and we wish them further enjoyment with the balance of their family gathering.

                                           Family Wildlife Watching

The Staats family (pictured above) of Missoula, Oregon and Pennsylvania are having their annual get together. Family activities include hiking, and especially, birding and photography. So at 10 am this morning the Staats were on the County Road viewing Pond 6 for waterbirds et al. It was pretty slow birding as many of the nesting waterfowl have dispersed. An added challenge was the wildfire smoke out of Washington and Oregon, you can barely make out the Bitterroot Mountains in the photo above. The Staats eventually moved on to the forested habitat of the Wildlife Viewing Area where several breeding birds were still singing and visible…in exchange for a small amount of blood for the mosquitoes :-) These folks had a great attitude and we wish them further enjoyment with the balance of their family gathering.

                                       Twelve-spotted Skimmer
Libellula pulchella is a very common and showy dragonfly here and for most of the country (all 48 States!). Named for the 12 total wing spots: three on each wing (at the base, middle and tip). Prefers smaller wetlands with lots of aquatic vegetation. Cooperative when taking photos especially when approaching from behind. Can also be photographed in flight because of extensive hovering (many dragonflies do not hover). Speaking of behavior, look for the front legs tucked behind the head when perched. 
Look for this species along the boundary of the wetlands bordering Wildfowl Lane. 

                                       Twelve-spotted Skimmer

Libellula pulchella is a very common and showy dragonfly here and for most of the country (all 48 States!). Named for the 12 total wing spots: three on each wing (at the base, middle and tip). Prefers smaller wetlands with lots of aquatic vegetation. Cooperative when taking photos especially when approaching from behind. Can also be photographed in flight because of extensive hovering (many dragonflies do not hover). Speaking of behavior, look for the front legs tucked behind the head when perched.

Look for this species along the boundary of the wetlands bordering Wildfowl Lane. 

                                           Eight-spotted Skimmer
Female Libellula forensis perched (hunting mode) near one of the Refuge wetlands. This is a commonly seen dragonfly on the Refuge. It is about two inches long with 4 spots per wing pair ergo the name “eight-spotted” (also diagnostic for identification purposes). Skimmers can be photographed and observed closely if approached stealthily from behind. The usual tendency for them is to perch on small twigs at waist height or below; occasionally found on the ground. Close focus binoculars are ideal for dragonfly watching. It can be found in more “open” habitats (non-forested) so walking the Refuge trails or Wildfowl Lane should yield multiple sightings. These insects are very active at midday. If you wish to find them when more “lethargic” time your visit when the sun is shining and temperatures are close to 60F, i.e.. 9-10 am. Let us know how you do :-)

                                           Eight-spotted Skimmer

Female Libellula forensis perched (hunting mode) near one of the Refuge wetlands. This is a commonly seen dragonfly on the Refuge. It is about two inches long with 4 spots per wing pair ergo the name “eight-spotted” (also diagnostic for identification purposes). Skimmers can be photographed and observed closely if approached stealthily from behind. The usual tendency for them is to perch on small twigs at waist height or below; occasionally found on the ground. Close focus binoculars are ideal for dragonfly watching. It can be found in more “open” habitats (non-forested) so walking the Refuge trails or Wildfowl Lane should yield multiple sightings. These insects are very active at midday. If you wish to find them when more “lethargic” time your visit when the sun is shining and temperatures are close to 60F, i.e.. 9-10 am. Let us know how you do :-)

                                   Refuge Dragonflies - 2nd in Series
Four-spotted Skimmer (Libellula quadrimaculata) is easily identified via the four spots on each pair of wings and the yellowish tones. Like most Skimmers, this large dragonfly (~1.75 inch in length) usually uses an elevated perch to “sally” and catch passing insects. Can capture other dragonflies, as large as, Meadowhawks (~1 inch in length). Prefers lakes and ponds with mud bottoms. Less common than related 8 and 12-spotted Skimmers. Can usually be seen along the trails (especially Francois Slough) at the Wildlife Viewing Area. 

                                   Refuge Dragonflies - 2nd in Series

Four-spotted Skimmer (Libellula quadrimaculata) is easily identified via the four spots on each pair of wings and the yellowish tones. Like most Skimmers, this large dragonfly (~1.75 inch in length) usually uses an elevated perch to “sally” and catch passing insects. Can capture other dragonflies, as large as, Meadowhawks (~1 inch in length). Prefers lakes and ponds with mud bottoms. Less common than related 8 and 12-spotted Skimmers. Can usually be seen along the trails (especially Francois Slough) at the Wildlife Viewing Area. 

                                      Dragonfly Season Kicks In
With the onset of summer and much warmer weather, insect populations multiply, especially the biting kind. Thanks to the various members of the damselfly and dragonfly suborders (Zygoptera and Anisoptera respectively), many insect populations are kept in check. Odonates (term to describe all damselflies and dragonflies as one) are carnivores that eat other insects, sometimes other dragonflies!. They are as colorful and interesting (behavior wise) as butterflies, but are not as popular with wildlife-watchers, just yet. Like birds, each species occupies certain habitats; this may vary over time, some even migrate like birds! We will highlight this group of insects over the next several days.
Our first species, pictured above, is a Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia), a member of the Skimmer family. These are large dragonflies approaching two inches in length, easy to see even without binoculars.They are uncommon in the Wildlife Viewing Area near shallow flooded areas. Plants and twigs at waist level or below are favored for perching. Like flycatchers (birds), these insects “sally” out to capture an insect and return to perch to finish the meal. 
If you look for this species be sure to apply good amounts of bug spray, mosquitoes are in abundance :-)

                                      Dragonfly Season Kicks In

With the onset of summer and much warmer weather, insect populations multiply, especially the biting kind. Thanks to the various members of the damselfly and dragonfly suborders (Zygoptera and Anisoptera respectively), many insect populations are kept in check. Odonates (term to describe all damselflies and dragonflies as one) are carnivores that eat other insects, sometimes other dragonflies!. They are as colorful and interesting (behavior wise) as butterflies, but are not as popular with wildlife-watchers, just yet. Like birds, each species occupies certain habitats; this may vary over time, some even migrate like birds! We will highlight this group of insects over the next several days.

Our first species, pictured above, is a Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia), a member of the Skimmer family. These are large dragonflies approaching two inches in length, easy to see even without binoculars.They are uncommon in the Wildlife Viewing Area near shallow flooded areas. Plants and twigs at waist level or below are favored for perching. Like flycatchers (birds), these insects “sally” out to capture an insect and return to perch to finish the meal. 

If you look for this species be sure to apply good amounts of bug spray, mosquitoes are in abundance :-)

                                          Kids Drawing Nature
Ellias (left) and Ila (right) hard at work drawing on the asphalt trail at the Wildlife Viewing Area. A great example of kids “connecting with nature through the arts”. Both were just using pencil and paper…very inexpensive option for supplies. It was very pleasant talking to both; they were relaxed, curious and happy in their task at hand. Our future leaders learning…very impressive!
Mom’s bring your kids to the Refuge for a similar learning experience…stop at the Visitor Center to find out more.

                                          Kids Drawing Nature

Ellias (left) and Ila (right) hard at work drawing on the asphalt trail at the Wildlife Viewing Area. A great example of kids “connecting with nature through the arts”. Both were just using pencil and paper…very inexpensive option for supplies. It was very pleasant talking to both; they were relaxed, curious and happy in their task at hand. Our future leaders learning…very impressive!

Mom’s bring your kids to the Refuge for a similar learning experience…stop at the Visitor Center to find out more.

                                         Animals Flying…Beyond Birds

With the beginning of June days away, butterfly and dragonfly activity is picking up. Right now Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia, top photo) can be commonly found flying low over grassland areas of the Refuge (like the field directly east of the WVA parking lot). Simply walk the County road and you will spy many orangish-brown ringlets (about 1.25 times the diameter of a quarter) weakly flying over the bordering grass areas. Mourning Cloak, Painted Lady and Milbert’s Tortoiseshell are also being seen with regularity in slightly different habitat.

California Darner (at WVA) and Spiny Baskettail (around Headquarters ) have been flying for 2 weeks or so. Another large dragonfly was found yesterday at Francois Slough of the WVA, Four-spotted Skimmer (Libellula quadrimaculata, bottom photo above). This is a large yellowish dragonfly, a little short of two inches long. Skimmers usually perch cooperatively for enjoyable looks by you, close focus binoculars are required hardware :-)

I encourage you to seek, find and report (if you please) what you find. It is great fun!!!!!!

                                              First Duck Brood of Year
Adult Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) tending to three ducklings on small island of Pond 6 (immediate Refuge Visitor Center). This cavity (woodpecker holes, snags, stumps, artificial nest boxes) nesting duck usually has a clutch of 6-11 eggs. This small brood will fly in about 51-60 days.

                                              First Duck Brood of Year

Adult Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) tending to three ducklings on small island of Pond 6 (immediate Refuge Visitor Center). This cavity (woodpecker holes, snags, stumps, artificial nest boxes) nesting duck usually has a clutch of 6-11 eggs. This small brood will fly in about 51-60 days.