12-Spotted Skimmer Rules the Sky…Maybe Just The Low Ground
The heat may be uncomfortable for us Montanans, but not so much for the little fliers in the woods and grasslands. The dragonflies only fly when the sun is out and the temperatures seem to be quite fine with them.
Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal has been keeping his nose to the ground to see the first Meadowhawk dragonflies of the season. And the larger (2-inch long) 12-spotted Skimmers are pretty common in the valley's wetlands. They have a large bulky brown body and their four wings each have 3 large dark spots (photo above). Also in the air are the Spreadwing Damselflies. They perch with the wings held at a 45-degree angle to their body, like the Emerald Spreadwing (photo below). You can find them in temporary ponds, like oxbows, that lack fish.
Butterflies can be found near Spreading Dogbane plants (photo below), found up Bass Creek and at the Florence Bridge Fishing Access Site. There you'll see Milbert's Tortoiseshell (photo below) and three species of Crescent butterflies - Field, Northern and Mylitta.
Birds are easy to hear this time of year. Follow the sounds in the mornings and you'll see lots of 'em. Bob found 35 species in about two hours at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. There are over 100 bird species in the Bitterroot Valley at this time.
The heat has Bob thinking back on 2007, when in July we had 30 days over 90 degrees, with the all-time record of 107 July 6, 2007. Water flow on the Bitterroot River back in 1987 was down to 116 cubic feet per second. Currently, it's at 989 cubic feet per second. Summer is just beginning. The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard Wednesday mornings at about 7:45 a.m. on 1240 KLYQ AM radio and www.klyq.com.