On a refreshingly cool day in August, six Young Macnamaras went looking for dragonflies along the shoreline and boardwalks of the Morris Island Conservation Area in the Ottawa Valley, close to Galetta, Ont. Alicia took time at the start of the day to explain a bit about the lives of these beautiful creatures. Each participant was given a scientific image of a dragonfly to use as a guide and colour at home later. Alicia said dragonflies are predators who use their legs like a basket to catch their prey while they are flying. The kids joined in for a discussion about the habitats dragonflies prefer and their body characteristics. Fully informed, these Young Macs were ready to go out and find their “odonates.”
While walking along the trails, the group encountered several species of dragonfly and damselfly, but the important thing was observing and appreciating these creatures, rather than identifying them. The kids (and parents!) were really good at catching them with long-handled nets. Once a specimen was caught, Alicia held it up for everyone to get a close look and see types of dragonflies in different habitats and pick up on characteristics like similar colours and size.
And there were opportunities to look at other creatures as well. The tree with the bear claw markings was really cool, and Young Macs compared their hands to the size of the paws’ claw marks. Frogs were found and briefly held, and we even saw two different Northern Water Snakes, one of them swimming!
The day ended with a litterless lunch at picnic tables with talk about our adventure and building on the new friendships. Everyone agreed that Morris Island Conservation Area is a great place to bring your family for the day, and is a treasure trove of odonates.