Archive for September, 2012

Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (old female)

September 30, 2012

A Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) spotted near the suspension bridge over Accotink Creek, Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge. This individual is an old female, as indicated by its gray-brown coloration, the flanges beneath its eighth abdominal segment (used to scoop and hold a few drops of water during oviposition), and by the terminal appendages at the end of its abdomen. Remember that all dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back.

Females become duller and darker with age, eyes may become blue. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 9196-9197). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

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Contrast the appearance of this old female Great Blue Skimmer with a young female of the same species: Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (female)

Habitat: Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, a 1,200 acre preserve located at Army Garrison Fort Belvoir, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

September 28, 2012

A Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted near a “false bottom” bog located along the trail between Tulley Gate and Accotink Creek.

Male only red dragonfly with bright blue to green face and bluish eyes. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Location 10457). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

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Special thanks to Mr. Chris Hobson, Natural Areas Zoologist with the Virginia Natural Heritage Program, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, for kindly allowing Project Noah spotter “Louisa” and me to tag along on one of his wildlife surveys!

Habitat: Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, a 1,200 acre preserve located at Army Garrison Fort Belvoir, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (male, predator-prey)

September 26, 2012

A male Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) spotted along the shore of Accotink Bay. Notice the abdomen of a male Orange Bluet damselfly (Enallagma signatum) lying on the leaf to the right of the dragonfly. The Eastern Pondhawk probably ate the head and thorax of the Orange Bluet, although I didn’t actually witness the event.

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The Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly is a …

Voracious predator, especially females, eating odonates of all kinds their own size and smaller… Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 10223-10224). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Habitat: Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, a 1,200 acre preserve located at Army Garrison Fort Belvoir, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Black Saddlebags dragonfly (male)

September 23, 2012

A Black Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerata) spotted in a field located approximately 100 yards from the shore of Accotink Bay. This individual is a male, as indicated by the secondary genitalia located on the underside of abdominal segments 2-3, and by the “claspers” (terminal appendages) at the end of its abdomen. Notice the hind wings of Black Saddlebags are broader than its fore wings, a characteristic of many migratory species of dragonflies.

Remember that all dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back.

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Habitat: Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, a 1,200 acre preserve located at Army Garrison Fort Belvoir, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

(Common) Buckeye butterflies

September 21, 2012

Several (Common) Buckeye butterflies (Junonia coenia) were spotted during a photowalk along the shore of Accotink Bay.

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Habitat: Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, a 1,200 acre preserve located at Army Garrison Fort Belvoir, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Green Heron (predator-prey) redux

September 19, 2012

The following photos show a Green Heron (Butorides virescens), possibly an immature, spotted during a photowalk through the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual was stalking and eating a frog. The heron speared the frog with both the upper and lower parts of its beak. As a result, the heron seemed to have difficulty removing its beak from the frog. Photo 2 shows the heron trying to shake free of the frog (notice the spray of water droplets); no luck. Eventually the heron flew to a nearby tree, where I lost sight of the predator and its prey. This is the same bird featured in another of my spottings.

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Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (females) redux

September 17, 2012

Several Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) spotted in a meadow located at least 100 yards from the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park. These individuals are females, based upon their coloration (males are blue, females green) and the terminal appendages at the end of their abdomens.

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Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

The Odd Couple

September 15, 2012

A male Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) perching on a turtle’s shell. This prehistoric odd couple was spotted along the boardwalk that goes through the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park. The pair reminds me of John the Turtle and the Dookie Bird from the comic strip, “B.C.

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Thanks to Project Noah Ranger “NeilD” for identifying the turtle as a Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). According to Neil, “Older individuals of that species, especially males, tend to turn ‘melanistic’ or dark-colored like that and lose the distinct colorful markings on their skin.”

Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Differential grasshopper

September 13, 2012

A Differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis) spotted during a photowalk along the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park. I’ve never seen a golden grasshopper, and as it turns out, this was in fact an uncommon sighting in Northern Virginia USA!

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Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Green Treefrogs

September 11, 2012

Several Green Treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) spotted along the boardwalk that goes through the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park. Photos 6-7 show “Louisa,” a good friend and fellow Project Noah spotter, photographing the treefrog in Photos 1-2.

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Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com


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