Archive for July, 2018

Gray Petaltail dragonfly (male)

July 30, 2018

Two photo sets of Gray Petaltail dragonfly (Tachopteryx thoreyi), taken on 08 June 2018 at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA, were lost in the excitement of my rediscovery of Sable Clubtail dragonfly (Stenogomphurus rogersi) later the same day in Fairfax County, VA. This gallery is one of two posts featuring some of the “lost” photos.

08 JUN 2018 | Prince William County, VA | Gray Petaltail (male)

This individual is a male, as indicated by his “indented” hind wings and terminal appendages.

08 JUN 2018 | Prince William County, VA | Gray Petaltail (male)

The Gray Petaltail ambushed several smaller insects that flew near his perch; he always returned to the same tree after each brief excursion.

08 JUN 2018 | Prince William County, VA | Gray Petaltail (male)

Related Resource: “Lost” photos, redux.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Blue-faced Meadowhawk (immature female)

July 28, 2018

A Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) was spotted at Occoquan Regional Park (ORP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an immature female, as indicated by her coloration and terminal appendages.

24 JUN 2018 | ORP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (immature female)

Now you see her; now you don’t.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies are classified as a fall species of odonate. In the mid-Atlantic United States, meadowhawks seem to disappear for several months after they emerge during early summer and reappear during fall. Where do they go? No one knows for sure. I speculate Blue-faced Meadowhawks are an arboreal species of dragonfly that returns to the ground/water when it’s time to mate.

Editor’s Note

Sincere thanks to my good friend Mike Boatwright, administrator of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, for verifying my tentative identification.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Mosquito Hawks

July 26, 2018

I’m honored to announce several of my dragonfly photographs are featured on new signage at Melvin L. Newman Wetlands Center, Clayton County, Georgia. The info-graphic, entitled “Mosquito Hawks,” was created by Danielle Bunch, Senior Conservationist for Clayton County Water Authority.

Image used with permission from Danielle Bunch.

As a retired K-12 science educator, I know from first-hand experience that informal learning opportunities can be as valuable as formal education in school classrooms. I was glad to contribute several of my photographs of Common Green Darner dragonflies (Anax junius) to the new info-graphic for the wetland area. It’s flattering to share the stage with Giff Beaton, author of Dragonflies and Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast.

Full-size versions of my photographs (featured on the signage) appear in several previous posts on my photoblog.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Black-shouldered Spinyleg (female)

July 24, 2018

A Black-shouldered Spinyleg dragonfly (Dromogomphus spinosus) was spotted along an unnamed small creek in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages.

19 JUl 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Black-shouldered Spinyleg (female)

The tip of the dragonfly’s right hind wing appears to be slightly malformed; her ability to fly didn’t seem to be impaired by the malformation.

Look at the full-size version of the following photo. Notice the fuzzy schmutz on her face and legs. I speculate the dragonfly might have enjoyed either a butterfly or moth for her last meal.

19 JUl 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Black-shouldered Spinyleg (female)

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Damnselflies

July 22, 2018

Did you notice what I did there? It’s not that I don’t like damselflies. I do. They don’t like me. I’m comfortable identifying some members of two of the three families of damselflies that occur in the mid-Atlantic states (USA), including Family Calopterygidae (Broad-winged Damselflies) and Family Lestidae (Spreadwings). Most members of the Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies), not so much.

I remember clearly the time when I was learning to identify dragonflies. I was more than a little confused at first. With persistence, the puzzle pieces started to fall into place sooner than I expected. Same story when I started learning to identify odonate exuviae. Never happened with damselflies, for whatever reason.

For example, here’s a photograph of a damselfly that I photographed recently at an unnamed small creek in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. I made a tentative identification after I edited the photo — I misidentified both the species and gender as an immature male Powdered Dancer damselfly (Argia moesta).

19 JUL 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Blue-fronted Dancer (female)

As it turns out, this individual is a female Blue-fronted Dancer damselfly (Argia apicalis). Sincere thanks to my good friend Mike Boatwright, administrator of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, for correcting my misidentification!

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

 

More Mocha males

July 20, 2018

Nearly two weeks after my last visit to Huntley Meadows Park in search of Mocha Emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora linearis), I revisited the small forest stream in search of Mocha exuviae.

No luck finding exuviae, but hey, I decided to make lemonade from lemons and photograph a couple of Mocha males that hung up near each other, especially since there were noticeably fewer S. linearis in contrast with my last trip to the site.

Male 1

Both individuals are male, as indicated by their “indented” hind wings and terminal appendages.

Male 2

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Sable Clubtail (terminal appendages)

July 18, 2018

Male and female Sable Clubtail dragonflies (Stenogomphurus rogersi) were spotted recently in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Male

Male dragonflies have three terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers,” that are used to grab and hold female dragonflies during mating: an upper pair of cerci (“superior appendages”); and a lower unpaired epiproct (“inferior appendage”). The epiproct for Sable Clubtail is essentially a wide plate with two prongs.

08 JUN 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

08 JUN 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

The hind wings of male clubtail dragonflies are “indented” near the body, as shown in the preceding photograph. In contrast, the hind wings of female clubtails are rounded (shown below).

Female

Female dragonflies have a pair of cerci (superior appendages) that have little or no function. The abdomen of female Sable Clubtails is noticeably thicker than males of the same species.

05 JUL 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (female)

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Sable Clubtail dragonfly (female)

July 16, 2018

A Sable Clubtail dragonfly (Stenogomphurus rogersi) was spotted perched near a small stream located in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by her rounded hind wings and terminal appendages.

Female: Colored like male but a bit more yellow on abdomen, including fine dorsal lines on segments and prominent patches on edges of S8–9. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 6092-6093). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The first photo is the best shot from a set of “record shots,” that is, quick-and-dirty shots that provide a record of the spotting. As is. This is the first female Sable Clubtail that I have seen.

05 JUL 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (female)

The next photo is my favorite in the set. Notice the tattered wings of this mature female — looks like she’s been working hard to perpetuate the small population of S. rogersi at this location!

05 JUL 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (female)

The last photo provides a dorso-lateral view of the female.

05 JUL 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (female)

New late date for Northern Virginia

The adult flight period for Sable Clubtail is from 08 June to 25 June (peaks in mid-June) according to records for Northern Virginia maintained by Kevin Munroe, former manager at Huntley Meadows Park. 05 July extends the old record by 10 days.

According to records for the Commonwealth of Virginia maintained by Dr. Steve Roble, a zoologist at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, 21 May to 24 July is the adult flight period for S. rogersi.

Reproducing population

There is a small reproducing population of S. rogersi at this location, as evidenced by my spotting of a mature female and Dr. Edward Eder’s observation of a mating pair (in wheel) on 21 June 2018. Great catch, Ed!

Image used with permission from Dr. Edward Eder.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Last man standing

July 14, 2018

One, possibly two Sable Clubtail dragonfly (Stenogomphurus rogersi) was/were spotted perched alongside a small stream located in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. All individuals featured in this photo set are male, as indicated by their indented hind wings and terminal appendages.

Male 1

The first shot is a “record shot,” that is, a quick-and-dirty shot that provides a record of the spotting. In this case, I was able to shoot one photo before Male 1 flew away. I didn’t see where he landed.

26 JUN 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

Male 2

I found Male 2 perched on overhanging vegetation along a nearby cut bank in the stream channel.

26 JUN 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

Notice the prominent peach-colored schmutz on the right forewing, located near the pterostigma, that is visible in both photos of Male 2. Since I don’t see the schmutz in the photo of Male 1, I think Male 1 and 2 are probably different individuals.

26 JUN 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

New late date?

Dr. Edward Eder and I visited the same site on the same day. Dr. Eder is one of the best all-around amateur naturalists I know. Ed saw/photographed a male Sable Clubtail near the same location as my photos, a little earlier in the day. Both of us thought we’d set a new late-date for S. rogersi in Northern Virginia. As it turns out, I spotted a female Sable Clubtail on 05 July 2018. Photos of the female will be featured in my next blog post.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Gray on gravel

July 12, 2018

A Gray Petaltail dragonfly (Tachopteryx thoreyi) was spotted during a photowalk at Occoquan Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages. He was perched on a gravel road, much to my surprise.

24 JUN 2018 | Occoquan Regional Park | Gray Petaltail (male)

This is the first Gray Petaltail that I’ve seen at the park since 04 June 2018, when I saw several individuals near a forest seep.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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