In the beginning …

Are Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) common or uncommon? Expert opinion varies. Here’s my take.

Blue-faced Meadowhawks have been officially reported at only three locations in Northern Virginia (USA). I visited Huntley Meadows Park, one of the three locations, 16 times between 14 September 2013 and 16 October 2013. I spent at least five hours per visit searching for Blue-faced Meadowhawks. I spotted approximately one- to five Blue-faced Meadowhawks per visit; rarely more than five. No Blue-faced Meadowhawks were spotted after 16 October.

That’s right — some days I spotted one Blue-faced Meadowhawk during five-or-more hours of intensive searching! Bear in mind, Blue-faced Meadowhawks aren’t found everywhere at Huntley Meadows Park and I searched only the right places. Blue-faced Meadowhawks are very habitat-specific: Usually they are found in fields and/or wetlands along the margin of a forest; it’s a waste of time to look for them elsewhere.

If my experience is typical, then I would say Blue-faced Meadowhawks are uncommon. Don’t be misled by the large number of photos I have posted on my photoblog (with more in the pipeline) — my photos are the fruit of more than 80 hours of field work! Common or uncommon, Blue-faced Meadowhawks are uncommonly beautiful!

The following photo sets feature the first Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly I spotted at Huntley Meadows Park during Fall 2013. This individual, photographed on 14 September, is a female (red morph).


Andromorphs are less common than heteromorphs. Andromorphs have a red abdomen with black rings, like male Blue-faced Meadowhawks; unlike males, most female faces are tan and their terminal appendages look different than male appendages.


The dragonfly is shown perching on a Common Buttonbush seed pod in the following photo from Set 4.



Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to “In the beginning …”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    I’ll leave the common/uncommon debate to others, but I know firsthand how patient and persistent you were in stalking the Blue-faced Meadowhawk and your results are incredible in their beauty and their detail.

  2. Parasitic gall wasps | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] growth on a branch of a Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris) plant. I spent several weeks during Fall 2013 carefully searching the same spot for Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) but never noticed the potato-like […]

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