Archive for December, 2015

Updates, two recent posts

December 31, 2015

Top 10 Photos of 2015

Voting for my “Top 10 Photos of 2015” will close at 12 midnight EST on 01 January 2016.

Winter Meadowhawk dragonfly

A few Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum), jokingly referred to as “Winter Meadowhawk dragonflies” in a recent post, were observed near the terminus of the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park. This sighting sets a new late-date for this species at Huntley Meadows Park. 01 January is the “official” late-date for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

This individual is a male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Top 10 Photos of 2015

December 29, 2015

The following gallery shows 25 finalists for my “Top 10 Photos of 2015.” The photos are presented in reverse-chronological order beginning in November 2015 and ending in April 2015.

The Top 10 photos will be selected using reader feedback. Please enter a comment at the end of this post listing the number for each of your 10 favorite photos. If listing 10 photos is asking too much, then please list at least five photos, e.g., No. 2, 5, 11, 20, 21, etc. Thanks for sharing your selections, and thanks for following my photoblog!

No. 1

An Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

04 NOV 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (male)

No. 2

A Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, nicknamed "Mr. Magoo."

15 OCT 2015 | HMP | Great Spreadwing (male)

No. 3

A Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes forcipatus) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

15 OCT 2015 | HMP | Sweetflag Spreadwing (male)

No. 4

A Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, nicknamed "Bendy Straw."

11 OCT 2015 | HMP | Great Spreadwing (male)

No. 5

A Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula pulchella) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature male.

23 SEP 2015 | HMP | Twelve-spotted Skimmer (male)

No. 6

A Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

23 SEP 2015 | HMP | Roseate Skimmer (male)

No. 7

A Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

23 SEP 2015 | HMP | Roseate Skimmer (male)

No. 8

A Common Sanddragon dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted at Dogue Creek, Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

05 AUG 2015 | WP/DC | Common Sanddragon (male)

No. 9

A mating pair of Common Green Darner dragonflies (Anax junius) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is in tandem as the female lays eggs by the process of oviposition.

05 AUG 2015 | HMP | Common Green Darner (mating pair, in tandem)

No. 10

A Banded Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis fasciata) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

24 JUL 2015 | JMAWR | Banded Pennant (male)

No. 11

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature male.

24 JUL 2015 | JMAWR | Widow Skimmer (male)

No. 12

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

10 JUL 2015 | HMP | Blue Dasher (male)

No. 13

A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) spotted near Dogue Creek, Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female with a mild infestation of black water mites.

10 JUL 2015 | HMP | Halloween Pennant (female)

No. 14

A European Hornet (Vespa crabro) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

05 JUL 2015 | HMP | European Hornet (female)

No. 15

A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) spotted near Dogue Creek, Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female with a mild infestation of black water mites.

29 JUN 2015 | HMP | Halloween Pennant (female)

No. 16

A Common Wood Nymph butterfly (Cercyonis pegala) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

24 JUN 2015 | HMP | Common Wood Nymph

No. 17

A Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature male.

17 JUN 2015 | HMP | Great Blue Skimmer (mature male)

No. 18

A Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula pulchella) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

22 MAY 2015 | HMP | Twelve-spotted Skimmer (female)

No. 19

A Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

22 MAY 2015 | HMP | Painted Skimmer (female)

No. 20

A Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

22 MAY 2015 | HMP | Painted Skimmer (female)

No. 21

A Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

20 MAY 2015 | HMP | Painted Skimmer (female)

No. 22

A Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

14 MAY 2015 | HMP | Painted Skimmer (female)

No. 23

Blue Flag Iris (Iris virginica) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

14 MAY 2015 | HMP | Blue Flag Iris

No. 24

A Southern Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes australis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

08 MAY 2015 | HMP | Southern Spreadwing (male)

No. 25

Common Green Darner dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

28 APR 2015 | HMP | Common Green Darner (mating pair, in wheel)

Editor’s Note: The following location codes are used in the photo captions, shown above.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

New discoveries in 2015

December 27, 2015

As the story is told, a reporter asked Willie Sutton “Why do you rob banks?” “Because that’s where the money is,” Willie answered. So when people ask me why I go to the remote locations in Huntley Meadows Park, I answer “Because that’s where the undiscovered species of odonates are.”

There are undiscovered species of odonates at the remote places in the park, in part, because fewer people go to the more difficult to reach locations. Also, the remote locations are often where the “habitat specialists” are found, in contrast with the “habitat generalists” that inhabit the central wetland area.

Springtime Darner dragonfly

Teamwork, and some take-aways

Springtime Darner dragonfly (female)

18 April 2015 | Photograph used with permission from Michael Powell.

Southern Spreadwing damselfly

A Southern Fortnight, Part 1 – Year-long mystery solved!

A mating pair of Southern Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes australis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is in tandem.

03 MAY 2015 | HMP | Southern Spreadwing (mating pair, in tandem)

Roseate Skimmer dragonfly

Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (male)

A Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

23 SEP 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Roseate Skimmer (male)

Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly

Another new species of spreadwing damselfly?

A Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes forcipatus) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

15 OCT 2015 | HMP | Sweetflag Spreadwing (male)

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Recognition received in 2015

December 25, 2015

It’s the time of year for reflection upon the past year. This is part one in a three-part series: part two will highlight New discoveries in 2015; part three will showcase my Top 10 Photos of 2015.

Several of my photographs received special recognition during 2015.

  • Chesapeake Explorer – National Park Service Web portal for exploring the Chesapeake Bay region
  • Vernal Pools are Wet and Dry – signage facilitating informal science education at a new park in the Town of DeWitt, New York
  • Argia, Vol. 27, Issue 4, “Parting Shots,” p. 31

The December 2015 issue of Argia, The News Journal of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas, features one of my photographs of a Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) that I discovered on 23 September 2015 at Huntley Meadows Park. Roseate Skimmer is extremely uncommon in Virginia: there are only three other confirmed records of this species in the state. See Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (male) for more information and photos of this handsome dragonfly.

Tech Tip: Apple “Preview” was used to extract one page from the December 2015 issue of “Argia.”

Sidebar:Argia” is a genus of damselfly, commonly known as “dancers.” For example, Variable/Violet Dancer (Argia fumipennis) is commonly found along streams in Northern Virginia.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

More Painted Skimmer dragonflies (males)

December 23, 2015

Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) is another species that should be added to “Top 10 Most Beautiful/Handsome Dragonflies of the Mid-Atlantic USA.”

These two individuals are males, as indicated by their terminal appendages. They are perching in a small meadow near a vernal pool/small permanent pond.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue Dasher dragonfly (female)

December 21, 2015

I’ve said it before — when you’re making a list of the “Top 10 Most Beautiful Dragonflies of the Mid-Atlantic USA,” don’t sleep on the female Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis). I think it’s easy to overlook their beauty because Blue Dasher is a relatively common species of dragonfly — males seemingly more common than females — but I think the females are uncommonly attractive.

The individual shown in the preceding photo is a female, as indicated by her coloration and terminal appendages. Blue Dashers display sexual dimorphism; terminal appendages may be used to differentiate females from immature males.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

More photos of an old friend

December 19, 2015

A distinctive Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) was spotted at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). This individual is a male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages. I nicknamed this male Great Spreadwing “Bendy Straw” because of his slightly malformed abdomen.

A Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, nicknamed "Bendy Straw."

11 OCT 2015 | HMP | Great Spreadwing (male, nicknamed “Bendy Straw”)

Notice the bend in his abdomen at the boundary between segments seven and eight (S7 and S8). Remember that all dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back.

A Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, nicknamed "Bendy Straw."

11 OCT 2015 | HMP | Great Spreadwing (male, nicknamed “Bendy Straw”)

I met “Bendy Straw” on 11 October 2015; I never saw “Bendy” again, although Mike Powell photographed him on 16 October.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

New species: Winter Meadowhawk dragonfly

December 17, 2015

I discovered a new species of dragonfly: Winter Meadowhawk (Sympetrum antifreezium). Kidding!

Winter is defined in two ways: astronomical winter begins on the date of the December Solstice (around 21 December) and ends on the March Equinox (around 21 March); meteorological winter includes the months of December, January, and February. Although astronomical winter hasn’t begun (as of this writing), meterological winter began on 01 December. So I took the liberty of jokingly renaming the last species of odonate still flying during the third week in December (in Northern Virginia): Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum).

I spotted 10s of Autumn Meadowhawks at two locations in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP): most of the dragonflies were seen perching along the boardwalk that goes through the central wetland area; one individual was spotted near a vernal pool/small permanent pond at a remote forested location in the park.

Males

The first two photos in this gallery show two males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

An Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

16 DEC 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (male)

An Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

16 DEC 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (male)

Mating Pair

The next photo shows a mating pair in tandem: the male is on the lower-left; the female on the upper-right.

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is shown in tandem.

16 DEC 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawks (mating pair, in tandem)

Female

The last two photos show a female, as indicated by her coloration and terminal appendages.

An Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

16 DEC 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (female)

An Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

16 DEC 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (female)

Related Resources:

Editor’s Note: 16 December establishes a new late-date for Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies at Huntley Meadows Park. 01 January is the “official” late-date for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Skink

December 15, 2015

Rudolph the Red-nosed Skink
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows

This individual is either a Broad-headed Skink (Plestiodon laticeps) or an adult male Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus); it is probably the former, as indicated by a field marker used to differentiate the two species.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Rivals

December 13, 2015

A Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) was spotted at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a mature male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal apppendages. A male Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) is shown in the background.

These two males were rivals, competing for one of two perches overlooking a wetland pool. I was amused by the smaller Blue Dasher’s aggressive behavior as he buzzed the larger Slaty Skimmer repeatedly, trying to recapture the prized perch he occupied before the Slaty showed up.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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