Archive for May, 2014

Blue Corporal dragonflies

May 10, 2014

This post features several Blue Corporal dragonflies (Ladona deplanata) spotted on 02 May 2014 at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

The first three photos show mature males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

Blue Corporal dragonfly (male)

Blue Corporal dragonfly (male)

Blue Corporal dragonfly (male)

The last photo shows a female, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

Blue Corporal dragonfly (female)

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Palm Warbler

May 8, 2014

Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)

This post features several photos of a Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum) spotted on 21 April 2014 during a photowalk along the gravel road between the terminus of the Hike-Bike Trail and the new observation platform at Huntley Meadows Park.

The bird’s hackles are raised in the following photo, indicating it may be angry for some unknown reason. (The idiom “get your hackles up” means “to get angry.”)

Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)

Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) and Yellow-rumped Warblers (Setophaga coronata) also were spotted in the same wooded area.

Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Ashy Clubtail dragonfly (male)

May 6, 2014

The following photos show an Ashy Clubtail dragonfly (Gomphus lividus) perching on the ground in a field located near Giles Run at Meadowood Recreation Area in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual, spotted on 02 May 2014, is a male — there are clearly three terminal appendages and its hind wings aren’t rounded like a female.

Ashy Clubtail dragonflies have been “documented in previous years at Meadowood as well as Occoquan Regional Park, but this is a first-of-season record for this year,” quoting Jim Waggener, coordinator for wildlife surveys of the Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Ashy- or Lancet Clubtail

Ashy- or Lancet Clubtail

Ashy Clubtail, Lancet Clubtail (Gomphis exilis), and Dusky Clubtail (Gomphus spicatus) dragonflies are very similar in appearance and difficult to differentiate with complete certainty, as shown by the following composite image created by Ed Lam, author and illustrator of Damselflies of the Northeast.

Ashy-Lancet-Dusky_Clubtail

According to Ed, my tentative field identification of the dragonfly species is probably correct and it is definitely a male.

The abdominal pattern fits Ashy better than Lancet. While there’s a hint of a pale marking on top of Segment 9, it’s usually paler [on Ashy] and well-defined on Lancet. It is indeed a male. Source Credit: Ed Lam, Northeast Odonata Facebook group.

Remember that “Segment 9” refers to abdominal segment nine (of 10), numbered from front to back.

Related Resources: Digital Dragonflies, presenting high-resolution digital scans of living dragonflies.

  • Genus Gomphus | Gomphus lividus | Ashy Clubtail | male | top view
  • Genus Gomphus | Gomphus lividus | Ashy Clubtail | male | side view

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Eastern Ratsnakes

May 4, 2014

I spotted several Eastern Ratsnakes (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) basking in a thorny thicket during a photowalk along the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park on 14 April 2014.

Eastern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis)

Thanks to Kevin Munroe for confirming my tentative field identification. I narrowed the field of possible snake species to either Eastern Ratsnake or Northern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor constrictor), but couldn’t decide between the two species. So I consulted an expert naturalist.

It’s an Eastern Ratsnake; you can tell by the eye. Northern Black Racers have a huge, all-black eye with an “eye-brow” ridge (makes racers look angry and somewhat dangerous all the time), while ratsnakes have noticeably smaller eyes with a black/white pupil/iris pattern (which makes them look more friendly/human). Also racers would never sit still long enough for you to take pictures, or at least it would be harder. Ratsnakes are pretty laid-back and easy to approach, while racers are very skittish and quick to flee. Ratsnakes mostly eat small mammals and young birds/eggs, while racers feed mainly on other herps like snakes, lizards and frogs. Ratsnakes are stealth/tracking hunters that smell out nests of young rodents and birds, while racers are active chasers/hunters/sprinters, which may be why they have such different personalities. Source Credit: Kevin Munroe, Park Manager, Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County Park Authority.

That’s good snake knowledge, Kevin!

Eastern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis)

Eastern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis)

Eastern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis)

The following gallery shows several full-length shots of the ratsnakes. I estimate the largest snake is five- to six feet long!

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

 

Common Yellowthroat

May 2, 2014

The following Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) warbler was spotted during a photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park on 21 April 2014. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration.

Common Yellowthroat (male)

I was on my way out of the park when a small unknown rodent caught my attention in the marsh alongside the boardwalk. As I waited for the rodent to reappear from its nest, this handsome little bird perched nearby just long enough for a couple of quick shots.

Common Yellowthroat (male)

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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