On July the 29th I decided to go down to Christina creek in southern B.C. to photograph and document the occurrence of the provincially rare damselfly, the River Jewelwing, Calopteryx aequabilis.
After 2 full days of searching this previously known location, I was unable to find any. While the dragonflies here were abundant, there was only one species of damselfly, Emma’s Dancer (Argia emma), that I found in very low numbers.
It would seem that these missing and delicate little creatures may be the victims of climate change, apparently the new normal. With the earlier arrival of warmer spring temperatures at higher elevations, and a 205% of normal snow pack, the Kettle River in southern BC this year experienced 200 year record breaking flood levels, possibly scouring the dragonfly & damselfly larvae clean in the process. The previous year witnessed a 100 year record flood. Concerns over contamination from spilled fuel, oil, nitrates & pesticides that were flushed from properties into the river where widely reported on in the CBC radio news. After my alarming discovery of the missing River Jewelwing, I decided to survey from Boundary creek just north of Midway, to the Kettle River Provincial Campground north of Rock Creek to see if it had also been affected: I only observed one-single-dragonfly, a Striped Meadowhawk (Sympetrum pallipes), in 5 hours of searching. Shown below.
I will definitely be following up with more surveys to document these changes and hopefully a recovery in the year to follow.
My journey was not a complete disappointment – I did manage to find and photograph a few species of stunning Odonata that I had not seen before. Click on the images to see a species name.
One of the many highlights of my trip, was discovering a family of river otters (Lontra canadensis), 2 adults and 5 pups. Or perhaps more to the truth, they discovered me.
It seems to be one those aspects of being a nature lover that when you cannot find what you had gone looking for, you are then blessed with the wonderful discovery of many others.
Coming soon will be Part 3 of 2018 – My “Big Year of the Dragonfly” blog series subtitled: “Into the Rockies, a Journey Up the Blaeberry river” or “There Were More Bears than Dragonflies…”
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