Archive for November, 2013

Meadowhawk Mike

November 30, 2013

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) like Mike! Mike Powell, that is, a.k.a. “Meadowhawk Mike.” The following photos were taken at Huntley Meadows Park on 15 November 2013. Each set of images, or individual image, features a different dragonfly (or dragonflies) perching on Mike at various times during the day. Disclaimer: No dragonflies were either injured or killed in the making of these photos.

Now you see it; now you don’t! A male dragonfly perching on Mike’s shoulder, that is. Or was.

A time-series of images showing a mating pair in tandem. Mating pairs are usually more skittish than this male and female.

Sometimes the same dragonfly — or more than one dragonfly — perched in different places.

Another male, testing a couple of perching places.

A male on Mike’s arm.

This isn’t an optical illusion — a male dragonfly actually is perching on Mike’s blue jeans. Well, actually it is an optical illusion — my eyes cross when I look at these photos too long!

A male dragonfly, with a little help from a friend, endorses an Adidas messenger bag for carrying photo gear.

Another mating pair in tandem, perching on the back of Mike’s sweatshirt.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in tandem)

By now you may be wondering, what’s the point? (Pun intended. That’s so like Mike, isn’t it?) Point is, Mike is a meadowhawk magnet!

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Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Wildlife Watching at Huntley Meadows Park

November 28, 2013

Sometimes I jokingly refer to myself as a “Dragonfly Whisperer.” Well, as it turns out, the roles were reversed recently when a mature male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) whispered some words of wisdom about wildlife watching at Huntley Meadows Park. Here’s what the old-timer had to say …

Food for thought on the traditional day when we give thanks for our many blessings. I am especially thankful for the opportunity to be a frequent and careful observer of the natural beauty of the hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park, and for many good friends with whom I share the experience. And thanks to WordPress.com for the free blog that enables me to share my sightings with others!

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Malformed odonates

November 26, 2013

Among hundreds of dragonflies spotted during the past few years, some were obviously malformed.

Some [odonates] don’t emerge properly and end up with damaged wings or bent abdomens. I have seen adults with slightly bent abdomens competing and mating normally, but if the wings don’t develop normally, those genes are probably leaving the gene pool. Source Credit: Beaton, Giff (2007-03-15). Dragonflies and Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast. University of Georgia Press.

The following retrospective is presented in reverse chronological order.

A male Common Green Darner dragonfly (Anax junius) was spotted at Huntley Meadows Park on 28 April 2015. This individual has a malformed wing: one of its two hind wings didn’t expand to full-size during emergence.

Common Green Darner dragonfly (male, malformed wing)

A male Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) was spotted at Huntley Meadows Park on 20 October 2014. This individual has a slight bend in its abdomen between S5 and S6. Remember that “S5 and S6″ refers to abdominal Segments 5 and 6 (of 10), numbered from front to back.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, malformed abdomen)

A male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum), shown below, was spotted at Huntley Meadows Park on 15 November 2013. Notice that this individual has a slightly bent abdomen.

The following gallery shows a female Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park on 17 September 2013. This individual is an andromorph that has a slightly malformed abdomen.

The following male Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) was spotted at Huntley Meadows Park on 06 June 2012. This individual has an extremely malformed abdomen.

A female Spangled Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula cyanea) was spotted on 04 June 2012 in a large meadow far from the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park. This dragonfly, shown below, has a slightly malformed abdomen.

The following immature male Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) was spotted at Huntley Meadows Park on 17 May 2012. This individual has a slightly malformed wing. He was very skittish and flew away after just a couple of photos, so I’m guessing it went on to live a normal life as an adult.

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female), redux

November 24, 2013

The following photographs show an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum), perching on the warm surface of the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park on 15 November 2013. This individual is an older female, as indicated by her muted coloration, tattered wings, and terminal appendages.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

Photo 1. Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female).

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

Photo 2. Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female).

A partially eaten rose hip, the fruit of the Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris), appears in the lower-right corner of Photo 2. No silly, dragonflies don’t eat rose hips!

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

November 22, 2013

The preceding gallery shows a female Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum), spotted at Huntley Meadows Park on 15 November 2013. She is perching on the hand of Mike Powell, fellow wildlife photographer and blogger. This individual is not the female featured in my last post, “Champion dragonfly.”

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Champion dragonfly

November 20, 2013

The following gallery features photos of the undisputed champion dragonfly!

This individual is a female Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum), spotted at Huntley Meadows Park on 15 November 2013. She is perching on the sleeve of Mike Powell’s Champion USA sweatshirt.

Hey Champion, how ’bout a little something, you know, for the product placement in my photos?

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

The Hardy Boys

November 18, 2013

No, not Frank and Joe Hardy, and their portly pal Chet Morton. Rather I’m referring to three hardy male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum), shot during a photowalk through Huntley Meadows Park on 11 November 2013, that have survived several nights of below-freezing temperatures. These three guys were among tens of males that I spotted during a three-hour photowalk in the central wetland area. Notice that Male 2 appears to be eating an unknown insect.

Tech Tip: Either mouse-over or tap photos to see captions.

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

An unusual position

November 16, 2013

Look closely at the unusual position of the following male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum), spotted perching on the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park on 22 October 2013. The first thing you notice is the funny way in which the dragonfly is tilting its head to look at me. Also notice the unusual position of its terminal appendages. What’s up with that? (Contrast the unusual position of this individual’s terminal appendages with a more typical position, as shown by another male spotted on 11 November 2013.)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

Photo 1. Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male), 22 October 2013.

Segue to a mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawks spotted at Huntley Meadows Park on 06 November 2013. The pair is “in tandem.” Notice the postion of the male’s terminal appendages, highlighted in Slide 2 and Slide 3. (See full-size versions of Slide 1 and the composite image shown in Slide 2 and Slide 3)

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Evidence suggests it’s probable the individual male spotted on 22 October (shown in Photo 1 and Photo 2) mated before the photographs were taken, and its terminal appendages hadn’t “relaxed” afterward.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

Photo 2. Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male), 22 October 2013.

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

The wheel goes around and ’round, redux

November 14, 2013

The following photos show another mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park on 06 November 2013. The pair is shown “in wheel.”

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel) Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

The wheel goes around and ’round

November 12, 2013

I witnessed what can be described appropriately as an orgy of mating Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) at Huntley Meadows Park on 06 November 2013. While standing in the same spot for an hour-or-so, I photographed six (6) mating pairs “in wheel” and seven (7) mating pairs “in tandem,” in addition to several other mating pairs I was unable to photograph. Also, I shot photos of eight (8) individual females — an unusually high number to see perching near the water! That’s a personal best and may be an all-time record for the species.

The following photos show one of the mating pairs in wheel. All dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen: male dragonfly secondary genitalia are located in segments two and three (2 and 3); female genitalia in segment eight (8). Therefore, the male dragonfly (red) is on top; the female (brown) is on the bottom.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel) Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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