Hunting Dragons at Schmidt Lake

By Angus Inksetter

On Saturday, August 24th, a dozen members and friends of Saugeen Nature met at the parking area for Saugeen Conservation’s Schmidt Lake property for the club’s eleventh annual dragonfly and damselfly outing. It is always a great opportunity to learn about these amazing insect predators and to explore new territory. Criss-crossing the open areas at the edge of the forest and following the trails to the viewing platform and the floating boardwalk, the group spent three hours finding, capturing, identifying, and releasing unharmed many of the aerial insectivores. By far the most numerous were the meadowhawks, a family of small dragonflies in the larger grouping called skimmers. There were many hundreds of white-faced meadowhawks actively patrolling the meadows. We found males, females, and immature specimens and also cherry-faced and au- tumn meadowhawks with which we learned the differences among the species. One common green darner was captured; it was admired for its large size and bright colours. This type of dragonfly is one that migrates south for the winter like the birds and returns in early spring to get back at eating our northern insects.

Few damselflies were seen on this outing. Sometimes they are numerous but this year only two were found, one slender spreadwing and one eastern forktail. The damselflies are predators like the dragonflies but are generally smaller, slimmer, less robust creatures than dragonflies and therefore are often eaten by dragonflies.

Photo by Julie Weinstein (Halloween Pennant)

As we approached the parking area at the end of the outing one final discovery was made, and it made the whole day a great success. That final capture was a Halloween Pennant, a brightly col- oured dragonfly in the skimmer group. The body is splashed with red in the males, yellow in the females, and both have orange and brown wings.

Beyond the dragonflies and damselflies, the group was also treated to several species of bird. On the lake were gulls, Canada geese, double-crested cormorants, and a kingfisher flying over. The forests and fields housed eastern wood peewee, house wren, goldfinch, robin, and phoebe. As we prepared to leave for home a pair of stately sandhill cranes flew over. A few very small frogs, three garter snakes (one very young), and interesting plants such as royal fern, sensitive fern, and the insect-eating pitcher plant were all found along our travels.

It was a satisfying morning for all. For more information about Saugeen Nature or to find out about upcoming events, go to

Scroll to Top
I the undersigned, wish to have my child
participate in the following activity
sponsored by the Saugeen Naturalists. As part of registering my child, I hereby agree as follows:
1. That I acknowledge that there are inherent risks associated with this activity and that my child could sustain personal injury through participation in this activity and I am hereby accepting to take that risk on behalf of myself or my child.

2. To save harmless and keep indemnified the Saugeen Naturalists and the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority and their respective agents, official servants and representatives against all claims and actions, costs and expenses and demands, in respect of injury, loss or damage or death to myself or my child’s person.

3. That I acknowledge that in this situation volunteers are involved in supervising this activity and that I shall accept the responsibility of observing my child’s participation in this activity and should I have any objection to the manner in which my child or myself are being supervised or instructed, I accept the responsibility to remove myself or my child from this activity.

This agreement shall be binding upon myself, my heirs, executors and assigns.