Dragonfly Observations in Northern Victoria

This article first appeared in the Victorian Entomologist for April 2019. See the Entomological Society of Victoria

This summer I had the opportunity to make several trips inland and spent time exploring the lower Ovens River (north from Wangaratta) and the Murray River (mostly a little downstream from Yarrawonga). Part of the reason was to try and get photographs of some inland dragonfly species that I hadn’t seen very often. Time was spent during the day to observe insects sunning themselves or waiting at breeding sites and also spotlighting at night for roosting ones. Early in the morning is also a good time to observe insects still roosting (before it gets warm enough for them) but on many of the days it became quite hot so the insects were active earlier.

The first visit to the area this season was actually an aborted trip through the alps after my camera played up. I camped near Wangaratta and while spotlighting I saw a Nighthawk dragonfly Apocordulia macrops*. Despite searching previously at known sites (as well as this location) this is the first time I had seen the species. Mine are now probably the only “natural” photos of them as previous ones are museum specimens or individuals reared from larva collected during water sampling. With a new camera and suitable weather I decided to return a few days later and this time saw two males roosting on the first night.



Nighthawk dragonfly Apocordulia macrops males.

During this trip I also visited a site along Reedy Creek below Woolshed Falls, Beechworth, where a few years ago I had seen some less common dragonflies. I again saw a few species including my first ever female Unicorn Hunter Austrogomphus cornutus*.



Unicorn Hunter Austrogomphus cornutus female left, male right

Two other species of interest were Royal Tigertail Parasynthemis regina and Stout Vicetail Hemigomphus heteroclytus. The latter is difficult to distinguish from Southern Vicetail Hemigomphus gouldii, which is much more common in Victoria. The only way I can tell is by getting a good view of the male’s appendages and refer to the key.



Royal Tigertail Parasynthemis regina female left, male right



Stout Vicetail Hemigomphus heteroclytus male, with a close-up of the tail

After returning home and looking on the map I noticed the reserve extends almost all the way to Eldorado, with numerous potential access points and camp sites, so something to visit on the next trip. When I returned I saw some female Hemigomphus gouldii (but still haven’t got good photos of them) as well as numerous more Austrogomphus cornutus.

Along the Ovens River north of Wangaratta I encountered a few of the Inland Hunter Austrogomphus australis. At one site there were two and I didn't realise at the time that one was a female – I was amazed at how adept it was catching a couple of Pygmy Grasshoppers (Tetrigidae) from her perch as they jumped past. It was only until processing the photos that I noticed it was a female – males at breeding sites are generally not that interested in prey.



Inland Hunter Austrogomphus australis female left, male right

On the final day along the Murray River I also finally managed to get some good photos of a mature female Gold-fronted Riverdamsel Pseudagrion aureofrons*, a species not very common in Victoria south of this river.




Gold-fronted Riverdamsel Pseudagrion aureofrons male top, female bottom-left, mating pair bottom-right

I did see a Twinspot Hunter Austroepigomphus praeruptus at Miepoll again (where the first modern recordings in Victoria were made), and also at a new location at Wahring a short distance away, but only males and no good photos.

For all the observations I recorded during these trips have a look at the following iNaturalist project I created for them:
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/rr-2019a

  • Some of the photos of Odonata taken on these trips will appear in my upcoming book to be published by the Society soon (currently in limbo with them).

Lähettänyt reiner reiner, 18. kesäkuuta 2019 05:21

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Some great finds. Love the Gold-fronted Riverdamsel.

Lähettänyt gumnut yli 1 vuosi sitten (Lippu)

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