Vernal pool

2014 is the “Year of the Vernal Pool.” Unofficially, that is. 2014 is the year I discovered that many animals — many habitat-specific odonates in particular — prefer vernal pools. In fact, a quick look at my blog posts tagged with the phrase “vernal pool” shows the oldest post is dated April 2014.

What is a vernal pool?

Vernal pools, also known as ephemeral wetlands, prairie potholes, whale wallows, sinks, and kettles are rain-filled depressions that amphibians use for breeding and laying egg masses. These pools can be as small as a puddle. They fill with water in the spring and are usually dried up by June or July. The reason some amphibians use these areas for breeding and laying egg masses is simple — they lack predators (fish) that eat their larvae. Source Credit: Amphibians and Vernal Pools, National Park Service.

Although the preceding quotation is focused on the reason amphibians prefer vernal pools, many odonates prefer fishless pools for the same reason as amphibians.

What does a vernal pool look like?

Many recent posts in my photoblog feature the phrase, “spotted near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park.” The following photos show one of my favorite vernal pools at the park, as it appeared on 04 November 2014. This vernal pool is located in a small meadow in the forest — it isn’t very big and it’s not very deep, but it has proven to be a location favored by many uncommon odonates.

Vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park

Vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park

Vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park

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Tech Tips: I used my Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS150 superzoom camera to shoot the three preceding photos. The camera was set for manual focus and aperture priority; the lens was focused at the hyperfocal distance for an aperture of f/4, based upon the instructions provided in the excellent video tutorial by Graham Houghton, “Panasonic Lumix FZ camera easier manual focus method — super point-and-shoot tip.” Focusing at the hyperfocal distance is a technique used in landscape photography that maximizes depth-of-field. For example, when my camera is set for maximum wide angle at an aperture of f/4, everything is in focus from approximately three feet to infinity — that’s DEEP depth-of-field!

Look closely at the upper part of the full-size version of all three photos. The purple fringing that appears along the edges of some tree limbs is called chromatic aberration; color fringing occurs sometimes in photographs of high contrast subjects such as the dark tree limbs against a bright sky. Adobe Lightroom 5 features several photo editing tools that work well for removing chromatic aberration. If the images featured in this post were fine-art landscape photos, then I would edit the images to remove the chromatic aberration. In this case, the photos are intended to show what a vernal pool looks like, and they are good enough for that purpose, warts and all.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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57 Responses to “Vernal pool”

  1. Red-footed Cannibalflies (mating pairs) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] mating pairs of Red-footed Cannibalflies (Promachus rufipes) spotted on 06 October 2014 near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. Red-footed Cannibalfly is a species of robber fly […]

  2. Male gymnast | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] photos of a Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) spotted on 17 October 2014 near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration, […]

  3. Wheel of life | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted on 27 October 2014 near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. The pair is shown “in […]

  4. Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pairs, in wheel) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] pairs of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted on 17 October 2014 near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows […]

  5. Winter blues… | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] of the preceding individuals were spotted on 02 June 2014 near a vernal pool in a relatively remote location in the forest at Huntley Meadows […]

  6. Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] I spotted a Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros) during a photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park on 02 June 2014. This individual is a female, shown laying eggs (oviposition) in mud alongside a vernal pool. […]

  7. Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] following photos show a Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros) spotted on 23 May 2014 near a vernal pool in a relatively remote location in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a […]

  8. Another Great Spreadwing damselfly (male) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] following Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) was spotted on 27 October 2014 near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a male, as indicated by its […]

  9. More Painted Skimmer dragonflies (males) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula semifasciata) were spotted on 31 May 2014 near a vernal pool in a relatively remote location in the forest at Huntley Meadows […]

  10. Great Spreadwing damselfly (male) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] individual, spotted near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park, is a male, as indicated by its coloration, hamules, and […]

  11. One-off | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted on 27 October 2014 near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows […]

  12. Bumble Bee-like Robber Fly | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] preceding photograph shows a Bumble Bee-like Robber Fly (Laphria grossa) perching near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park on 22 July […]

  13. More Painted Skimmer dragonflies (males) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula semifasciata) were spotted on 25 May 2014 near a vernal pool in a relatively remote location in the forest at Huntley Meadows […]

  14. Full circle | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) were photographed on 12- and 18 April 2014 at two vernal pools near the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park. [See “Toad-ally in Love! (Part […]

  15. A sampler of male dragonfly claspers (Part 1) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] last image shows a male Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) spotted near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows […]

  16. A sampler of male dragonfly claspers (Part 2) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] next image shows a Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena) spotted near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. Many members of the Skimmer Family have terminal appendages […]

  17. Oothecae | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] insect oothecae (sing. ootheca) were spotted while searching for Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies at a vernal pool located near the terminus of the Hike-Bike Trail, Huntley Meadows […]

  18. Cavalcade of color, continued | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] followed this guy to several places around a small meadow near a vernal pool located in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. Blue-faced Meadowhawks are habitat specialists: they […]

  19. Great Spangled Fritillary | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] butterfly was spotted in a small meadow near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows […]

  20. Chinese Mantis ootheca | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] insect ootheca was spotted near a vernal pool located near the terminus of the Hike-Bike Trail, Huntley Meadows Park. This is a Chinese Mantis […]

  21. Snowy scenes along the Hike-Bike Trail | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] vernal pool located near the terminus of the Hike-Bike Trail. The pool is mostly covered by ice and snow and […]

  22. Great Spreadwing damselfly (male) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Spreadwing damselflies (Archilestes grandis) were spotted on 15 October 2015 near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. The following individual is a male, as indicated by its […]

  23. Painted Skimmer dragonflies (females) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] of several Painted Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula semifasciata) spotted on 20 May 2015 near a vernal pool in a remote location in the forest at Huntley Meadows […]

  24. Aperture versus Lightroom | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] this case a male Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) spotted on 20 May 2015 near a vernal pool in a remote location in the forest at Huntley Meadows […]

  25. Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] a first-of-season Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros) was spotted on 25 April 2016 near a vernal pool at a remote location in Huntley Meadows […]

  26. Beware of look-alikes! | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Bar-winged Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula axilena) were spotted on 10 June 2016 at a vernal pool located in Huntley Meadows Park […]

  27. Slender Spreadwing damselflies (mating pair) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) was discovered during late-May and early-June 2016 at a vernal pool located in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). I have seen/photographed many female Slender Spreadwings […]

  28. Part 2: Slender Spreadwing (adult male) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) was discovered during late-May and early-June 2016 at a vernal pool located in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). I have seen/photographed many female Slender Spreadwings […]

  29. Part 3: More adult male Slender Spreadwings | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) was discovered during late-May and early-June 2016 at a vernal pool located in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). I have seen/photographed many female Slender Spreadwings […]

  30. Part 4: Young male Slender Spreadwings | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) was discovered during late-May and early-June 2016 at a vernal pool located in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). I have seen/photographed many female Slender Spreadwings […]

  31. Part 5: Teneral male Slender Spreadwings | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) was discovered during late-May and early-June 2016 at a vernal pool located in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). I have seen/photographed many female Slender Spreadwings […]

  32. Return to terra firma | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) were spotted near two vernal pools at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park. All of these individuals are males, as indicated by […]

  33. Time to mate | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) was spotted at a vernal pool in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). The vernal pool, currently dry, is the same one where teneral […]

  34. They’re back! | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] males were spotted at a vernal pool in a remote location in the park. More photos of both males will be featured in a follow-up […]

  35. Perchers like perching on Coleman | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] males of many species of Skimmers perch near prime egg-laying habitat — like a small vernal pool located in Huntley Meadows Park — in order to attract […]

  36. Slender Spreadwing damselfly (female) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis) was spotted near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal […]

  37. Black Saddlebags dragonfly (male) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerata) was spotted near a vernal pool in a remote location at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a male, as indicated by his […]

  38. Painted Skimmer dragonfly (female) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) was spotted near a vernal pool in a remote location at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a female, as indicated by her […]

  39. What’s my gender? | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] following Common Green Darner dragonfly (Anax junius) was spotted near a vernal pool in a remote location at Huntley Meadows […]

  40. More previews of coming attractions | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] one week later, many teneral Autumn Meadowhawks were spotted at a vernal pool in Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia […]

  41. Great Spreadwing (female terminal appendages) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Spreadwing damselflies (Archilestes grandis) at Huntley Meadows Park. A formerly fishless vernal pool in a remote location at the park was less than productive, yielding only two males as a result of […]

  42. New late-date for Blue-faced Meadowhawk | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) was spotted near a vernal pool in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). This individual is a male, as indicated by his coloration and […]

  43. Voltinism | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Huntley Meadows Park — a male spotted on 23 May 2014 in a drainage ditch near a vernal pool in the forest — the author has carefully monitored this location for the past two […]

  44. New late-date for Familiar Bluet | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Familiar Bluet damselfly (Enallagma civile) was spotted near a vernal pool located in Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a male, as indicated by his black and blue […]

  45. Painted Skimmer dragonflies (males) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula semifasciata) were spotted at a vernal pool in Huntley Meadows Park. All of these individuals are males, as indicated by their terminal […]

  46. Blue-faced Meadowhawk mating frenzy | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] than ten mating pairs of Blue-faced Meadowhawks were spotted at a small vernal pool in the park; the pool was almost completely dry on the day of my […]

  47. Great Spreadwing damselfly (male, grooming) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) was spotted in the forest near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is the same male featured in my last blog […]

  48. Great Spreadwing damselfly (male, eating) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) was spotted in the forest near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a male, as indicated by his deep blue eyes, familiar […]

  49. Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pairs) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] of two mating pairs of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). Both pairs are “in […]

  50. Monarch butterflies | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] solitary Monarch butterfly was spotted near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a female, as indicated by the absence of scent scales […]

  51. Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male, malformed) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) was spotted near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). This individual is a male, as indicated by his coloration and […]

  52. How to Identify Damselfly Exuviae to Family | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] damselfly exuvia from the Family Lestidae (Spreadwings) was collected from a small vernal pool located in eastern Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Although the genus/species is unknown (again, […]

  53. Painted Skimmer dragonfly (teneral female) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) was spotted at a vernal pool in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). This individual is a teneral female, as indicated by her terminal […]

  54. Scavenger hunt | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] largest subject shown in the following photo is floating in a vernal pool. What is it? (Ignore the smaller “bonus bugs.”) The answer can be found by scavenging […]

  55. Arachnids 2, Odonates 0 | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] spider was observed preying upon a teneral damselfly at a vernal pool in Huntley Meadows Park. The genus/species of the spider is uncertain; the damselfly appears to be […]

  56. Slender Spreadwing damselflies (females) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) were spotted during a photowalk around a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows […]

  57. Blue-faced Meadowhawks (mating pair) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) was spotted near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). This pair is “in wheel“: the male is on the […]

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