It was an honor to spend Veterans Day with my good friend and photowalking buddy Major Michael Powell, U.S. Army, Retired. We were men on a mission: Searching for Great Spreadwing damselflies (Archilestes grandis), in the hope of extending the “official” late-date for this species in Virginia. Mission accomplished, but it wasn’t easy — the operation was unsuccessful until we called in an “air strike!”
Since 06 October 2015, Mike and I have been frequently monitoring the Great Spreadwing damselflies that inhabit a small permanent pond and surrounding fields at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park.
On 11 November, Mike and I spent several hours intensively searching for our quarry; no luck. A little after 1:00 p.m., we were standing near the pond watching a lone Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) aggressively hawking smaller odonates perching around the perimeter of the pond: the darner dipped into small hiding places in vegetation growing along the shoreline, briefly chasing odes that flew up-and-away from the relative safety of their perches. (Remember, odonates feed on flying insects.)
The Shadow Darner flushed a male Great Spreadwing from a concealed location; I happened to be standing near the spot where the damselfly landed. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!
For a few minutes, we followed the skittish damselfly from its first perch (shown above) to two more perching places. Stop two is shown below.
I was able to shoot only 11 photographs of this individual before he flew away. The last photo in this set is actually the last shot I took of what may turn out to be the last Great Spreadwing damselfly of 2015.
Related Resource: Final fall farewell, by Mike Powell.
Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.