I enjoy pretty much everything there is that has to do with the outdoors. Some of my most peaceful moments have been while walking through the forest, sitting on a beach, or boating (minus the loud engine). Accordingly I have a great respect for nature and enjoy learning about the plants and wildlife therein. My plan is to continue that learning process and hopefully enhance it by sharing what I learn. I intend for this blog to serve many purposes, but in the immediate future it will be a place for me, and hopefully others, to share ideas about reducing our individual impact on this planet, protecting wild spaces, and in general just to comment on the things we enjoy most in the great outdoors. I welcome all opinions as otherwise you cannot consider every aspect of a subject. However, I would ask that every opinion be expressed in a respectful way and considered with an open mind. Often there is no single right answer. Thanks.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Viaduct Flats - Red Dragonfly

After I took part in the Viaduct Flats restoration walk back in February my intention was to take my kids for a walk there sometime in the near future.  Apparently the near future means approximately four months.  I think summer has finally arrived in Victoria and since we are no longer bogged down with school and extra curricular activities I finally got around to taking the kids to the Viaduct Flats today.  It took some coercing, as all they wanted to do was hang around the house, but I persuaded them that I would be a much happier mother if we could get out for a walk somewhere.

I was so happy to finally get them into the truck that I held off on the sunscreen until we got to the parking lot.  Once we are there we might as well walk, right?  In their usual fashion they were chomping at the bit to get started and happy to skip/run once we got going.  Our first stop was up onto the observation platform where there is a scope for looking out over the water.  Unlike the last time I was there you could not see the platform from the parking lot and the grass has grown so tall that in some places it is taller than me.  After everyone had a chance to take a look at the various waterfowl and had watched a bird in hot pursuit of a dragonfly we were off to the trail head.

The trail is quite wide and covered with crushed gravel for most of the way.  A little bit of minor up and down but otherwise an easy walk.  We turned off the main trail and headed down the Birder's Loop, which was quite narrow due to the spring growth.  I think it makes for more of an adventure though when you have the grasses and other plants reaching out and brushing you as you pass.  I do not let myself get bothered by the occasional cool, wet feeling of the spit bug foam on my legs.  The path meanders a bit and we skipped a couple of turn offs.  I was trying to head in approximately the same direction as my walk in February and was successful for the most part.  When we got to the open area, where the land slopes down towards the water, the path that I had previously taken was not as clear and so rather than trample the grass we stuck to a path that went the long way around.  I am glad we did.

We saw many dragonflies of varying size flying overhead and as we were just about to head back into the trees we had a rare treat.  I have never seen a red dragonfly before and must admit that it made my day to see this one.  Please excuse the quality of the pictures as I am not a professional photographer by any means, and I was using my blackberry as a camera.  I was sure that the dragonfly was going to take off any second and so I took about 5 pictures as I got closer and closer.  As you can see it let me (and my son) get very near before it flew away.  Naturally I was much more excited about this dragonfly sighting than my kids, but they patiently stood there with me while I attempted to get a good shot.

I poked around on google this evening to satisfy my curiosity about this red fellow and came across an E-Fauna Atlas page that has a much better picture and, of course the name, which is the Cardinal Meadowhawk.  From this page you can also link to the BC Species and Ecosystem Explorer which gives you conservation information.  Here I learned that the Cardinal Meadowhawk is on the yellow list.  This means that it is "apparently secure and not at risk of extinction".  Given all of the depressing information that you frequently read about endangered species I was pleased to hear of the Cardinal Meadowhawk's yellow status.  I also learned that the adults are not strong fliers and perch often, thus the great photo opportunity.

I hope to overcome my kids' protests and get out for little nature walks quite regularly.  The negotiations and occasional complaints of "are we almost back to the truck?", or "I'm hot" are totally worth it if I get a chance to come across some new plants and animals.


  1. I had never seen a red dragonfly until the summer of 2011. My 6 year old son, Owen, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly a few months earlier in April of 2011. His favorite color was red. The principal at his school had asked me if I had read the book, waterbugs & dragonflies, which is a book intended to explain death to young children. The story goes that the waterbugs keep disappearing & they don’t understand where they are going. Well they are turning into dragonflies & once they transform, they can’t come back and break the water seal to tell the waterbugs what’s going to happen. It’s a beautiful story symbolizing that death is just a transformation. That summer, we saw hundreds of red dragonflies. My friends had never seen one until we were all golfing together, and one landed on my ball and my seat. My family, and grief therapist noticed them as well for the first time that summer.