Along the gravel berm that lines the single lane road a red dragon stalks the sky. He moves as swift as an arrow snagging his prey from among the reeds and each time returning to his perch on the dry seedhead. His scarlet tones set him apart from anything else above the marsh. And if I am correct, he’s never been documented in this area before. I believe that what I have stumbled upon is a Ruby Meadowhawk.
The Ruby Meadowhawk is new to me. I’ve seen various blue, green and brown dragonflies and damselflies over my life and a few of the red ones in other states. But, this is the first red dragonfly that I’ve encountered in the state of West Virginia. So naturally the first thing I did was a Google Image search to try and find a match. I was presented with 3 possible hits.
The Ruby Meadowhawk, the White Faced Meadowhawk and the Cherry Faced Meadowhawk.
The White Faced Meadowhawk is just what it sounds like. The photos and descriptions online say that the distinguishing characteristic of the White Faced Meadowhawk is a pure white face as compared to the Ruby Meadowhawk which gas a tan face. Likewise, the Cherry Faced Meadowhawk has a face that turns red when mature and seems to be a Western species.
My Meadowhawk has a tan face which is the mark of the Ruby Meadowhawk.
The only Map of species distribution that I could find comes from iNatualist.org and shows a few confirmed sightings in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle and sightings in Morgantown but central and southern West Virginia show no confirmed sightings. The map is updated daily and seems to be current.
So did I find something worthy of a note? I don’t know. Right now all I know is that it seems to something that’s not supposed to be in my area.
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