Wednesday 5/2: After a quick grocery stop for water and pretzels, I drove the 15 minutes to the main hotel and said hello to most of the crowd. I joined the Massachusetts group of Dave and Dave and after some instructions, we headed out. We got stuck at the first light and proceeded to go to the spots in the reverse order of everyone else.
At the first stop, I discovered that my net had been damaged in transit and one end was misshapen and wouldn’t fit into the next piece. After 10 minutes of trying to bend it back with Dave F, Dave S pointed out that I could just make that the end piece… Lots of Great Blue Skimmers later, we moved on.
Along the way to the next spot, we pulled over at a random stream crossing and found a Citrine Forktail and a few other things. We then intersected the group at the Punch Bowl. They had a few good gomphids and some other stuff. We found Gray-Green Clubtails but not the other (which I forget) plus I caught a Swamp Darner. Mississippi Kites overhead were nice too.
We continued poking around, trying a few unexplored spots. Most were about the same, lots of common odes, Prothonotary Warblers, etc. A lunch stop at a gas station was a good break (would have liked to have noticed the fried chicken before I bought a sandwich). The afternoon stop was more of the same (plus Zebra Swallowtails).
We were told to meet back at the hotel midafternoon to regroup and try some other spots. Chris arrived and said that the spot he intended was very dry, so we headed to a pond behind a housing development instead. All sorts of good stuff along the edge including Cherry Bluets, Little Blue Dragonlets, Ornate Pennants, and more.
With a shadowdragon hunt on for the evening, we had to eat early, so we left ahead of most of the group and went to the Cuban/Mexican place that the Daves had been to the day before. My quesadilla was quite good (and the corn tortilla was very different). We went back to the hotel and caravaned to the shadowdragon site (a friend of Chris’s that has a house right on the river).
Eventually things started flying. I suspect the first couple were false alarms as I eventually got a Stream Cruiser in the net. But shadowdragons soon came out. Several were caught quickly. I was having no luck along the banks, so moved to the floating dock. After a couple misses, I got a good swing off and heard some wings in the bag. I was rather shocked to find two Umber Shadowdragons in the net! Of course I didn’t think to pull out my phone and take a photo, but people were impressed.
The flight slowed down and it got rather dark, so after a few minutes talking to our hosts, we headed back to the hotel. I made the short drive back to my hotel and went to bed.
Thursday 5/3: Up and back to Conway. Chris had booked the Coastal Carolina boats to run to some nice sandbars up one of the rivers, so we headed there first. We hung around the boat launch for a bit until they arrived and got set up. There wasn’t much around but Barn Swallows were nesting under the bridge and lots of Red Admirals and Question Marks were flying about. The ride over was quick and we found several spots to explore.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot to see. Swamp and Cyrano Darners were flying around and lots of Common Sanddragons were on the sand (including a few freshly emerged). I poked around in the woods and had some jewelwings but otherwise it was fairly quiet. After an hour or two, we caught the boats back (and got good looks at a Yellow Rat Snake on the way).
We headed off for lunch. With the magic of phone apps, we found Gore’s BBQ nearby. A tiny place, it was excellent. The smothered chicken was delicious. The owners were exceptionally friendly and offered all sorts of extras. We split up from here, with the Daves wanting to check out Ketchuptown, while I led Dennis to Florence. After checking in, I had planned on going out to explore locally but found Nick and Ailsa Donnelly in the lobby and sat around talking to them. A large group of us went to some steak place, which was ok.