Archive for July, 2011

Daylily

July 30, 2011

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A beautiful red daylily, possibly a hybrid, located in a small container garden on the balcony of my exurban apartment. The plant is a gift from Elena Scire, a good friend who was a Virginia Master Gardener before she moved to Washington state. For more information about daylilies, visit the American Hemerocallis Society Web site.

There is a relationship between time and some types of plants, such as morning glory, four o’clock, and moonflower. I started growing daylilies as part of an experimental garden that I called the “Botanical Clock Project,” a semi-successful attempt to recreate Linnaeus’ flower clock. Daylily flowers last one day, hence the name “day lily.”

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Flying frog attacks dragonfly

July 26, 2011

The following short video clip shows a female Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) as she oviposits eggs in the wetlands at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. A male Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly patrols the area to protect the female from other males.

Question is, did the dragonfly survive the attack by the frog? The following time series of 10 still photos provides the answer.

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Watching the second video in real-time, it looks like a close call for the dragonfly — was she safe or out (game over)? Looking at the “instant replay” (i.e., the preceding time series of still photos), it’s clear the frog missed “tagging” the dragonfly by a wide margin. For those of you scoring at home, the box score for the game of life looks like this: Dragonflies 1; Frogs 0.

The following photo gallery features annotated versions of the same time series of 10 still photos: the frog is highlighted in green (when necessary); the dragonfly is highlighted in blue.

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So what’s the life lesson learned from witnessing this extraordinary event? From an evolutionary viewpoint (i.e., survival of the fittest), it pays to have compound eyes that see in all directions as well as amazing aerobatic skills!

Tech Tips: Apple “Aperture” was used to save the preceding JPEG photos as still frames from the second video clip (GPS info copied from the video clip metadata to the JPEG photos). Apple “Preview” was used to annotate the second gallery featuring a time series of 10 still photos.

Flying frog attacks dragonfly (revised)

July 26, 2011

The following short video clip shows a female Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) ovipositing eggs in the wetlands at Huntley Meadows Park on 24 July 2011. A male Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly is patroling the area to protect the female from other males (“hover guarding”).

Suddenly, an American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) attacks the female dragonfly!

Question is, did the dragonfly survive the attack by the frog? The following time series of 10 still photos provides the answer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Watching the second video in real-time, it looks like a close call for the dragonfly — was she safe or out (game over)? Looking at an “instant replay” of the preceding time-series of still photos (shown below), it’s clear the frog missed “tagging” the dragonfly by a wide margin. For those of you scoring at home, the box score for the game of life looks like this: Dragonflies 1; Frogs 0.

The following photo gallery features annotated versions of the same time series of 10 still photos: the frog is highlighted in green (when necessary); the dragonfly is highlighted in blue.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So what’s the life lesson learned from witnessing this extraordinary event? From an evolutionary viewpoint (i.e., survival of the fittest), it pays to have compound eyes that see in almost all directions as well as amazing aerobatic skills!

Tech Tips: Apple “Aperture” was used to save the preceding JPEG photos as still frames from the second video clip (GPS info copied from the video clip metadata to the JPEG photos). Apple “Preview” was used to annotate the second gallery featuring a time-series of 10 still photos.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Northern Water Snake

July 24, 2011

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A Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon) spotted during a recent photowalk through Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. “The Northern water snake … is a large, nonvenomous, well-known snake in the Colubridae family that is native to North America.” Source Credit: Wikipedia. I’d say this snake has been eating well, as evidenced by one or more bulges along its body. Summertime, and the living is easy! Well, easier than wintertime.

Mocha Emerald dragonflies

July 22, 2011

The following photos show couple of Mocha Emerald dragonflies (Somatochlora linearis) spotted during a photowalk through the “Wildlife Sanctuary,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The Mocha Emerald dragonfly has bright green eyes, a hairy brown and green thorax, and a black abdomen. It perches vertically.

Photo 1 of 2 is a copy of the original photograph, cropped to highlight the dragonfly; Photo 2 of 2 is the original photograph. Photo 1 was cropped and sharpened using Apple Aperture, a professional-grade tool for organizing and adjusting photos.

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The following photo was cropped using Aperture.

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I tested an idea recently that worked fairly well: To improve the focus of my iPhone photos of dragonflies, I held a piece of card stock behind the dragonfly (shown above) in order to reduce the depth of field. I must say, the dragonfly was remarkably cooperative! An unexpected consequence: The extraordinary detail that is visible in the photo, especially noticeable in the dragonfly’s wings. One problem I can’t solve easily using an iPhone 3GS camera: Mocha Emerald dragonflies seem to like to perch in shade; iPhone 3GS cameras don’t work well in low light. Two take-aways from my simple experiment: 1) I need to use a bigger piece of card stock; and 2) I need to devise some sort of poor man’s light reflector to illuminate subjects in shadow.

Editor’s Note: These dragonflies were misidentified as American Emeralds. The OdonataCentral checklist for Fairfax County, Virginia USA does not include the American Emerald dragonfly. That doesn’t necessarily mean the dragonflies I spotted aren’t American Emeralds, but it means it’s less likely. Of the two Emerald species included on the OdonataCentral checklist, my spotting more closely resembles a Mocha Emerald (Somatochlora linearis). Mocha Emerald also appears on the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park Dragonflies and Damselflies species list; American Emerald does not. (Huntley Meadows Park is located within walking distance of the “Wildlife Sanctuary.”) [Post last updated on 24 December 2011.]

Violet Dancer damselfly

July 20, 2011
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A Violet Dancer damselfly (Argia fumipennis violacea) spotted during a photowalk through the “Wildlife Sanctuary,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The individual shown in the preceding photo gallery is a male, as indicated by its purple and black coloration; the tip of its abdomen is colored blue. Formerly known as “Variable Dancer,” the Violet Dancer is classified as one of three subspecies of Variable Dancer damselflies.

Photo 1 of 3 is a copy of the original photograph, cropped to highlight the damselfly; Photo 2 of 3 is the original photograph. Photo 1 was cropped using Apple Aperture.

Ebony Jewelwing damselfies

July 18, 2011
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Several Ebony Jewelwing damselflies (Calopteryx maculata) spotted during a photowalk through the “Wildlife Sanctuary,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills (CAHH), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The individuals shown in the preceding photo gallery are males, as indicated by their metallic green bodies and opaque black wings. (Females have dull brown bodies and smoky wings with bright white spots near their wingtips.)

The Ebony Jewelwing is one of eight species of broad-winged damselflies, a family of medium-size damselflies that have butterfly-like flight. Like all broad-winged damselflies, Ebony Jewelwing damselflies are usually found along small creeks and streams, near the water.

Related Resources:

Eastern Ribbon Snakes

July 16, 2011

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I spotted several Eastern Ribbon Snakes (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus) during a recent photowalk through Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. “The Eastern Ribbon Snake or Common ribbon snake … is a subspecies of ribbon snake found in the northeastern United States.” Source Credit: Wikipedia.

Sunflower, Bumble bee, and a black ant

July 14, 2011

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A spotting hat trick from a recent photowalk through the Children’s Garden at Hollin Meadows Science and Math Focus School: a sunflower (Helianthus annuus); bumble bee (Bombus sp.); and some type of black ant. Nothing says “summer” like a big yellow sunflower!

Notice the mathematical pattern of florets in the head of a sunflower. For more information, see the following reference: Mathematical model of floret arrangement. This one’s for you, Heather!

Blue Dasher dragonfly

July 12, 2011
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A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis), a member of the skimmer family of dragonflies, spotted during a Fairfax County Parktakes class on the dragonflies of Huntley Meadows Park. The male dragonfly shown in my photo is held by Mr. P.J. Dunn, class instructor and a professional naturalist with the Resource Management Division, Fairfax County Park Authority. Disclaimer: No dragonflies were injured or killed in the making of this photo.

Related Resources:

Editor’s Note: Hey kids, please don’t try this yourself — collecting specimens for observation is not allowed at Huntley Meadows Park.


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