Thursday, August 19, 2010

Droves of Dragonflies

Me and my buddies!
We heard some folks watched the PGA this past weekend, hoping to see the Dragonfly cruise by offshore. Alas, you were disappointed. We were weatherbound in Manitowoc.

But PGA viewers DID see dragonflies a-plenty--the real deal, swarming on the lakeshore.

Tis the season for dragonfly migration!  When I researched my book on dragonflies, I was fascinated to learn that some species migrate south for the winter.   It's thrilling to actually be in the midst of a phenomenon I had only read about.

Most of the migrants are Common Green Darners--a species of dragonfly with a Kelly-green body and glittering wings.  These dragonflies are SO big, when you see them you can't quite believe it.

We also spotted a species of "saddlebag" dragonfly--possibly the Black Saddlebags.   This species has spots on its wings, near the body, that give it kind of a humpbacked appearance in flight, as if it's carrying miniature saddlebags.

Experts say an unusually large mosquito population this year gave dragonflies plenty of food, so they have survived to adulthood in large numbers.

And some random photos to show you where we stayed:

We enjoyed Port Washington, "home of the world's largest one-day fish fry" (how's THAT for a claim to fame?)  Alas we missed that event, and we were also too late for the town's annual "Pirate Festival." But at least we now know why so many local boats fly a pirate flag.

The town has a gem-like little downtown area where many of the buildings are cream-colored "Milwaukee brick."

Like the other towns on the west coast of the lake where we've stopped (Algoma, Kewanee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan), we saw many empty storefronts, but somehow Port Washington looked a little more prosperous.  It bills itself as the local sportfishing capitol, and there WERE many charter salmonfishing boats in the marina, including "The Happy Hooker."

The spiffy marina presented us with a welcome packet jammed with brochures and coupons for local businesses.  In the pile was an amusing little flyer for an unusual service.  If you drop something overboard, the ad copy exclaimed,  just "Add a Ripple to the water."  The Ripple brothers will come to the marina and try to retrieve what you lost.  (No charge for the service, but tips are welcomed.)

The icon for this town is its 1930s-era "Art Deco" Lighthouse, at the end of a breakwater that's perhaps a quarter mile long.

It's quite striking in appearance, and many businesses use it as an icon.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of dragonflies and steps towards sustainability - today I had the chance to visit the new Reliance refinery in Jamnagar, India. It's in Gujarat State about 30 miles south of Pakistan on the Arabian Sea. Jamnagar is the worlds newest (2009), largest, and most environmentally conscious refinery.

    There are relatively few emissions. Sulfurous and nitrous emissions are captured for manufacturing other products and the cleaned wastewater is landfarmed on a 1 mile wide greenbelt around the refinery.

    The greenbelt houses 1 million teak trees, 1 million mango trees, and 100,000 each of grapefruit, pomello, guava, and many species of native trees, as well as swarms and swarms of dragonflies (you were wondering when I'd get to the dragonflies). The dragonflies team up with wild pheasants and peacocks, while the latter also help control weeds. A variety of other IPM methods are also used to control the insect population and weeds. Thanks to the greenbelt, you can't actually see or hear the refinery from the outside.

    We may not be able to shed our dependence on fossil fuels for awhile, but as long as we must use them, Jamnagar is an interesting model.