Photo: Dawn FineTis the season... I'm off in the New River Gorge region of West Virginia, helping out with the New River Birding & Nature Festival. I think this is my fifth year down here, and there are few better places to be, especially in early May.
Above, a group of festival attendees roam the grounds of Opossum Creek Retreat, which is base camp for many of our activities. These rich woods harbor many interesting birds: scarlet tanager, red-eyed, blue-headed, and yellow-throated vireos, hooded, Kentucky, worm-eating warblers, wood thrush and scads of others. Not long after this photo was taken, I looked up to see a Mississippi kite flying over. Nearly the entire group saw it. That, apparently, would be the second state record of this bouyantly acrobatic raptor.
While standing along Opossum Creek's driveway, someone in the group shouted "dragonfly"! And this little beauty shot over and landed on my shirt. A blue corporal, Ladona deplanata! This one is either a young male, or I think more likely a female. In my state, Ohio, they're relatively rare but seem to be on the increase. It's easy to overlook blue corporals as they emerge very early in the season, and often frequent atypical sites for dragonflies. This one was hanging around a small roadside gap in an otherwise older-growth forest with no ponds or water bodies nearby.
The Odonata Central website shows only two records of blue corporal for West Virginia, and Fayette County - where we found this one - is not listed. I'm sure there must be more blue corporals flitting around down here, but at least for the present it appears that not many have yet been found in the Mountaineer State.
All in all, not a bad start to the New River Birding & Nature Festival.