Recent local blog posts

North Thurston Public Schools Welcomes New Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/07/2016 - 10:34am

ThurstonTalk

A new school year is upon us. Pencils are sharpened, lockers are clean and backpacks are packed with new supplies. And, in North Thurston Public Schools (NTPS), teachers, parents and students are excited to start a new era of leadership under the guidance of Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens. Former superintendent Raj Manhas retired at the […]

Elite Cleaning of Washington: Partnering for Success

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/07/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Businesswoman Delphine Arnault once said “I firmly believe that success lies in the combination of both talent and business savvy, and that the magic comes through partnership between both.” At Elite Cleaning of Washington, growth and success come from open communication between customers, management, and employees. Entrepreneurs acknowledge that “building a good partnership requires appreciation […]

Blind Pig Spirits Brings Craft Distilling to Downtown Olympia

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/07/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Downtown Olympia recently welcomed its first craft distillery and tasting room – Blind Pig Spirits. Blind pig refers to a prohibition-era drinking establishment, similar to a speakeasy. In order to circumvent prohibition laws, customers would be charged a fee to view an animal in the backroom and then be served a “complimentary cocktail.” These establishments became […]

Here Be Dragons

Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Tue, 09/06/2016 - 12:41pm
Text by Nancy Partlow©.  All photos taken at Capitol Lake by Nancy Partlow©, unless other wise noted.
In our community there is a magical kingdom.  Towered over by a castle on a hill, it is known by the mundane name of  Capitol Lake, but for the countless creatures  roaming its aqueous realm, it is a cradle of life.  Anyone who has ever peered through a microscopic lens at a drop of pond water has glimpsed this mysterious world. 
As Capitol Lake has slowly filled with sediment over the years, many native species have benefited from its increasingly marsh-like condition.   One group of insects  that has prospered greatly are members of the order Odonata, comprised of dragonflies (Anisoptera) and damselflies (Zygoptera).  Dancing over the water at Percival Cove, zooming like sunlit fairies above the east lawn at Heritage Park, defending territories and fighting for mates along the  Marathon Park shoreline, dragonflies and damselflies are a consistent summer and autumn-time presence at Capitol Lake.  Male Western Pondhawk on Heritage Park lawnOdonates are creatures of freshwater wetlands, and the lake is perfect  habitat for them.  With its shallow depth, muddy bottom and summertime algal mats, the lake is a lentic lagoon and a dragonfly heaven.



I'd previously garnered some limited knowledge about odonates from Janet and Glen, but recently learned a lot more while attending a presentation by well-known expert Dennis Paulson at a Stream Team sponsored event at the WET Center.  Author of Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West, Paulson's comprehensive field guide is filled with fascinating and specific information about these charismatic mega-fauna of the insect world.   I was surprised to learn that beside their great diversity in appearance, each species has differing behaviors for hunting, mating, egg-laying and even perching. 
The language used to describe odonata reflects the way they have captured the human imagination:  dragons and damsels, jewelwings and emeralds, sprites and dancers, even the more explicative skimmers, darners, dashers and hawks.
Damselfly on emergent vegetation at Capitol Lake's middle basin
The immature forms of these insects are called nymphs, although the name hardly reflects the classical definition of the word - they are fierce-looking bugs.  The larval phase comprises the vast majority of the odonate life cycle, which is lived under water.  A nymph's sole purpose in life is to eat and grow through voracious predation upon other aquatic invertebrates. 
After several months and molts, the nymph crawls out of the water  and clamps its legs onto a piece of shoreline vegetation, where it bursts its exoskeleton and emerges into aerial form.  Although I've never seen any of these shed skins called exuviae, there must be many of them hidden in the vegetation around the lake. 
Bright red as an adult, this is an immature Autumn Meadowhawk, just recently emerged
from the lake.  It will gain adult coloration over a period of days or weeks.
Paulson refers to dragonflies as "Natures Rainbows", and they really are.  Their variety of colors and patterns are amazing.  As a wildlife photographer, I love to shoot dragonflies. They're beautiful and make excellent subjects since, unless they're twisting their swivel heads, they perch stock still.  
It's been really fun and interesting trying to discover just how many species of dragonflies breed in Capitol Lake.  I've documented eleven so far, out of the total 33 species recorded for Thurston County as a whole.  Here are their photographs:Cardinal Meadowhawk near the entrance to the CLIC
Eight-spotted skimmer at the Interpretive Trail A Blue-eyed Darner suns in shrubbery along the CLIC trail. This species belongs to the genus Aeshna, whose members are known as Mosaic Darners for the decorative patterns resembling mosaics on their abdomens.
Variegated Meadowhawks mating in a copulation wheel at the CLIC.
Shadow Darner male
Female Western PondhawkA male Common Whitetail perching on the ground in the middle of the CLIC
main trail - a typical pose.
 Common Whitetails are highly dimorphic.  This female  was perched on
 a rock near the lower falls at Capitol Lake's south basin.Blue Dasher male perched on reed canary grass at Marathon Park.
Male Blue Dashers waiting for females at a CLIC pond.Juvenile male California Darner near south basin of Capitol Lake in May.  According to Paulsen's book, the California Darner is "...almost always (the) first dragonfly to appear in spring, throughout at least (its) northern part of range".
Female California darner ovipositing eggs in an algal mat near CLIC dock. The floating vegetation helps protect the eggs from foraging fish.  





As adults, dragonflies and damselflies are both predator and prey.  The lake which gives them life is also nursery to many other insect species that fly as adults, such as caddisflies, stoneflies, mayflies, midges and mosquitoes, to name a few.  Odonates eat them all. Beetles, flies and Lepidoptera are other common food items, as evidenced by this video I took of a female Western Pondhawk masticating a moth at the Interpretive Center, the scales from its wings floating away in the breeze:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqYUadVR7q0 
In a terrific and highly unusual photo, local nature photographer Barry Troutman captured a Shadow Darner eating an insect being parasitized by a wasp at the CLIC.
Shadow Darners derive their name from their habit of conducting much of
their activity in the shade.
PHOTO: ©Barry Troutman

Odonates make a good meal for other animals.  Spiders and frogs take their share, and at least 40 species of birds, probably more, are known to consume odonata larvae and/or adults, including the Blue and Green Herons that haunt the shoreline of Capitol Lake.
Despite the name, this is the only Common Green Darner I've seen at Capitol Lake - caught in
a spider web.
Green Heron at Percival Cove.






A Cardinal Meadowhawk perches on a branch near an American Bullfrog near the entrance to the CLIC.  Several Blue Dasher dragonflies also flew near this frog, just out of reach.
I asked Dennis Paulson whether odonates could survive the transition of the lake to an estuary.  Sadly, the answer is no.  Like many magical kingdoms, this one would retreat into legend.  Until such a day comes however, I will visit as often as possible, and allow myself to be willingly spellbound by its mystery and beauty.---------Many thanks to Dennis Paulson and Barry Troutman for their help.----------Resources:
Odonata Central records for dragonfly and damselfly species in Thurston County:
http://www.odonatacentral.org/index.php/ChecklistAction.showChecklist/location_id/14246
Nature's Deadly Drone, from the New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/science/dragonflies-natures-deadly-drone-but-prettier.html?_r=0
A female Western Pondhawk finds good camouflage on an Oregon Grape leaf








Categories: Local Environment

The Horse Doctor is IN – Chambers Prairie Expands Reach with New Equine Veterinarian

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/06/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Dr. Michael Clark’s favorite part of being a veterinarian is developing a base of trust with clients. “When you build trust through taking care of the animals and finding out what they want, it’s extremely strong,” he says. “I’ve seen people who’ve had bad relationships or bad interactions with their veterinarian and a lot of […]

Oly Reign Volleyball Club Starting to Take Shape

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/06/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

This forecast calls for Reign. With a deep talent pool located in Thurston County, Todd Oestreich and Holly Nichols thought it was time the area’s elite volleyball players had a club of their own. The coaches created the Oly Reign Volleyball Club. Nichols, who played collegiately at San Jose State University and previously teamed up […]

Do You Know Who Your Audience Is? We Do

Thurston Talk - Mon, 09/05/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

  Great stories are everywhere, but what one person considers great, another could find uninteresting. Knowing who your audience is and addressing that audience appropriately is a key component to successful marketing. ThurstonTalk shares a wide range of stories, covering everything from high school sports and upcoming events, to profiles on community organizations and local […]

Massage Away Stress and Pain at Derma Medical Spa

Thurston Talk - Mon, 09/05/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Dr. Bessie McCann had tried everything for her wrist pain – a soft brace, a thermoplastic brace molded specifically to her hand, athletic tape, and even Asytm therapy. Nothing helped. When massage therapist Gretchen Schuetter heard about McCann’s plight, she suspected the root cause might not be the wrist at all. “I’ve worked in orthopedics […]

Love for Life Long Learning at Senior Services of South Sound

Thurston Talk - Mon, 09/05/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Walking through the aisles of spiral bound notepads and reams of blue-lined paper reminds me of my own back-to-school days. The seasonal page is turning to autumn. It’s time to sharpen pencils and dive into new subjects. Grade school may be long past for you, but the thrill of a new school year is still available […]

Ross Lunbeck – Cooking Chili with Big Red

Thurston Talk - Sun, 09/04/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Ross Lunbeck has been making chili a long time.  His forays into the world of chili competition have inspired family and friends to new levels of fun and games. The contests have turned into an extended family affair with friends and relatives joining in the cooking by chopping ingredients, tweaking recipes, competing with and against […]

Rugby Star David Ainuu Powers Capital High School Football

Thurston Talk - Sun, 09/04/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

It was a sink or swim scenario for David Ainuu. During his freshman year at Capital High School, Ainuu, admittedly, may have had a little too much fun, neglecting his studies along the way. “Grades were just secondary for me back then,” Ainuu said. “Sports were everything.” This did not sit well with his parents who […]

Washington’s #1 Rated Disc Golf Course is Hiding at Shelton Springs

Thurston Talk - Sun, 09/04/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Surrounded by trees and deep green mosses, the only noise heard is the wind rattling branches and an osprey screeching from a nest a few hundred feet away. Your focus isn’t on the gorgeousness of your surroundings; instead, you are hyper focused on your next throw, hoping to avoid the very trees providing shade and […]

Old Estates Gain New Life at The Retreasury

Thurston Talk - Sat, 09/03/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Sandy Macaulay’s business has occurred in a series of leaps: the leap from operating out of her home to renting a warehouse and another leap in letting go of one reliable source of inventory in favor of another. The first jump resulted from a space issue. Over months of purchasing inventory to resell online and […]

Olympia Harbor Patrol Volunteers Keep Waters Safe

Thurston Talk - Sat, 09/03/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Since their inaugural patrol 46 years ago, the members of the Olympia Harbor Patrol have been keeping a watchful eye on the waters of the Puget Sound. Once an aquatic extension of the Olympia Police Department, the Harbor Patrol was forced to overcome a daunting predicament in February 2015 when funding threatened to disband the […]

Little Loop Trails Meander through Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Sat, 09/03/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

I am an indiscriminate lover of walking and hiking trails. Long, short, paved, dirt, easy, difficult, I love them all. That said, there is something special about a nearby Thurston County loop trail. Seeing new scenery the whole time, never having to turn around, the satisfaction of completing a loop and arriving back at the […]

Climate Change Affects Our Community’s Health

Thurston Talk - Fri, 09/02/2016 - 6:58pm

ThurstonTalk

Submitted by Thurston County Public Health & Social Services We know that health is affected by a variety of community conditions, including environmental factors such as air and water quality. Climate – the long-term patterns of conditions such as precipitation and temperature – also affects us. Climate, by influencing how we live and what we’re exposed […]

Voting Open for Eastside Traffic Box Wrap Designs

Thurston Talk - Fri, 09/02/2016 - 6:44pm

ThurstonTalk

Submitted by The City of Olympia The City of Olympia requests the public’s help in choosing the designs that will decorate 10 lucky traffic boxes in east Olympia. 99 designs submitted by local artists are now on display on the City’s Facebook page at facebook.com/cityofolympia. The public may vote by browsing the designs and ‘liking’ […]

Try Square Dancing for Free with Olympia Area Square Dancers

Thurston Talk - Fri, 09/02/2016 - 4:14pm

ThurstonTalk

Submitted by Olympia Area Square Dancers It’s your chance to try square dancing for free! Come to a free square dance party that gives you an introduction to this exciting activity. The fun begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 8 at Olympia’s Lac-A-Do Hall, 1741 46th Avenue NE. The Hall is home to a vibrant group of […]

City of Olympia Seeking First Poet Laureate

Thurston Talk - Fri, 09/02/2016 - 4:08pm

ThurstonTalk

Submitted by the City of Olympia  Applications Available for Olympia’s First Poet Laureate The City of Olympia is seeking a Poet Laureate to engage our community in the literary arts. The intent of Olympia’s Poet Laureate designation is to: Promote poetry as an art form Expand access to the literary arts Connect the community to […]

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