Archive for the ‘digital photography’ Category

Dragonhunter (female)

June 24, 2019

A Dragonhunter dragonfly (Hagenius brevistylus) was spotted at South Fork Quantico Creek along “South Valley Trail,” Prince William Forest Park, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

21 JUN 2019 | Prince William Forest Park | Dragonhunter (female)

This individual is a female, although it is difficult to see some critical field marks from the viewpoint in the preceding photo. Thanks to Michael Boatwright, founder and administrator of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, for confirming my tentative identification of the gender.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Another Arrowhead Spiketail (female)

June 21, 2019

An Arrowhead Spiketail dragonfly (Cordulegaster obliqua) was spotted in a sunny clearing along a small-to-medium size forest stream at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA.

14 JUN 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Arrowhead Spiketail (female)

This individual is a female, as indicated by her rounded hind wings, terminal appendages, and prominent ovipositor at the tip of her abdomen.

14 JUN 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Arrowhead Spiketail (female)

Did you recognize the interrupted fern (Osmunda claytoniana) in the background of every photo in this gallery?

14 JUN 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Arrowhead Spiketail (female)

The Backstory

Mike Powell and I stopped to use GPS to get a fix on our position at the end of a long photowalk that included lots of bushwhacking. We stopped because the small stream we were exploring was getting wider and deeper the farther we walked downstream, and we decided the stream habitat had changed to be less suitable for our target species.

The place where we stopped is a sunny meadow near the confluence of a tiny side stream with the larger stream we were following. As Mike was testing a few GPS apps for his Android cell phone, I noticed a big dragonfly as it flew down the tiny stream, turned left past us, and landed in the sunny meadow. I found the dragonfly after a few minutes of searching the area where I saw it land. I was hoping for a Tiger Spiketail (Cordulegaster erronea) but nonetheless delighted to see a female Arrowhead Spiketail — our second record of this species for the year at the remote location!

Related Resource: Arrowhead Spiketail dragonfly (female)

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Gray Petaltail dragonfly (male)

June 19, 2019

Gray Petaltail dragonflies (Tachopteryx thoreyi) have a well-known preference for perching on gray or tan colored surfaces, including gray or tan colored clothing.

Most of the photos of Gray Petaltail featured in my blog show them perched on gray/grayish surfaces. In contrast, the following Gray Petaltail is perched on a mostly tan colored tree.

21 MAY 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Gray Petaltail (male)

This individual — spotted in a sunny clearing along a small forest stream at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA — is a male, as indicated by his “indented” hind wings, and terminal appendages.

The preceding photo is uncropped, that is, full resolution for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 superzoom bridge camera (4,000 x 3,000 pixels). Needless to say, I was fairly close to this cooperative subject!

Related Resource: Posts Tagged ‘Gray Petaltail dragonfly’

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Sanddragon dragonfly (male)

June 17, 2019

A Common Sanddragon dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) was spotted by my good friend Mike Powell during a photowalk along a small forest stream at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA.

I was standing in the creek looking toward the sandy shoreline where the Common Sanddragon was perching.

14 JUN 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Common Sanddragon (male)

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

14 JUN 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Common Sanddragon (male)

Both of the photos featured in this blog post are uncropped, that is, full resolution for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 superzoom bridge camera (4,000 x 3,000 pixels).

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Aurora Damsel (mating pair, in heart)

June 14, 2019

The mating pair of Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum) shown in the following photograph is “in wheel,” in which the male uses “claspers” (terminal appendages) at the end of his abdomen to hold the female by her neck/thorax while they are joined at their abdomens. The male — blue, yellow, and black in color — is on top; the female — yellow and black in color — is on the bottom.

The copulatory, or wheel, position is unique to the Odonata, as is the distant separation of the male’s genital opening and copulatory organs. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 377-378). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The wheel position is sometimes referred to as “in heart” when damselflies mate.

04 JUN 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Aurora Damsel (mating pair)

Female C. conditum is polymorphic, including two morphs: an andromorph with blue coloration similar to male; or a heteromorph with an entirely yellow thorax, as shown above.

It’s helpful to take photos of mating pairs of damselflies, especially “in wheel,” since males and females of the same species can look quite different.

Taxonomy

C. conditum is a monotypic genus in the Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies).

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Painted Skimmer dragonfly (female)

June 12, 2019

A Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) was observed during a photowalk with my good friend Mike Powell along a small forest stream at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA.

04 JUN 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Painted Skimmer (female)

This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages. Notice her right hind wing is slightly malformed near the body. It appears the wing failed to inflate completely during emergence. The malformation didn’t impair her ability to fly.

Did you recognize the interrupted fern (Osmunda claytoniana) in the background?

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

“Grays” come in peace.

June 10, 2019

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

This individual is a male, as indicated by its “indented” hind wings and terminal appendages. The male is perched on the left sleeve of Mike’s gray “Army” logo t-shirt. I nicknamed this Gray “The Gripper” because Mike said he could feel the dragonfly tightening its grip on a small fold in the t-shirt.

“Grays”

If you look into the eyes of a Gray Petaltail dragonfly at close range, then you might agree with me that they look like the space aliens known as “Grays.” Hey, I’m just saying — Mike might have experienced a close encounter of the Gray kind!

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (female)

June 5, 2019

An Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) was spotted during a photowalk with Mike Powell at Occoquan Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages.

Beginners beware — immature male Eastern Pondhawks are the same color as females of the same species.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Painted Skimmer dragonfly (female)

June 3, 2019

A Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) was observed during a photowalk with my good friend Mike Powell along a small forest stream at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA.

21 MAY 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Painted Skimmer (female)

This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages.

Habitat

Look for Painted Skimmer near some sort of water body in the forest, such as a vernal pool or small streams and ponds.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Aurora Damsel (male, mating pair)

May 31, 2019

An Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum) was spotted along the shoreline of a small pond located in Prince William County, Virginia USA. Aurora Damsel is a new species for my life list odonates.

This individual is a male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages. Speaking of coloration, notice the underside of the male’s thorax is yellow — a key field mark for Aurora.

21 MAY 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Aurora Damsel (male)

A mating pair of Aurora Damsel was spotted at the same location. This pair is “in tandem“: the male is on the upper-right; the female on the lower-left.

After copulation, Aurora Damsel engages in a form of guarding behavior known as “contact guarding,” in which the male and female fly “in tandem” to egg-laying sites. Contact guarding is used by most species of damselflies and some species of dragonflies to prevent aggressive males from hijacking the female.

21 MAY 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Aurora Damsel (mating pair)

Female C. conditum is polymorphic, including two morphs: blue coloration similar to male; or with an entirely yellow thorax, as shown above.

It’s helpful to take photos of mating pairs of damselflies, especially “in tandem,” since males and females of the same species can look quite different. The preceding photo is slightly overexposed. As a result, the yellow coloration on both the male and female looks a little washed out.

Credits

Sincere thanks to Gary Myers for the tip that enabled Mike Powell and me to find this uncommon damselfly. See Aurora Damsels in action for Mike’s take on our first time seeing this species.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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