Archive for the ‘wildlife photography’ Category

“Bender” on grass

June 22, 2018

Gray Petaltail dragonfly (Tachopteryx thoreyi) is well-known for its tendency to perch on gray and tan colored surfaces, including tree trunks. Less well-known is the fact that Gray Petaltail perches wherever it wants, including tall grasses growing in the forested seeps from which the species emerges.

“Bender,” my nickname for a male Gray Petaltail with a malformed abdomen, is shown perched on grass stems in the following photo set.

No. 1 | 06 JUN 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (male)

The next photo provides a good view of the gentle curve in Bender’s abdomen, as well as his hamules, visible on the ventral side of abdominal segments two and three (S2 and S3).

No. 2 | 06 JUN 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (male)

Like many male odonates, Bender probably perched on the grass in order to make himself available for hook-ups with females of the same species.

No. 3 | 06 JUN 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (male)

Bender aggressively defended the prominent perch against other odonates that intruded upon his territory.

No. 4 | 06 JUN 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (male)

No flash/flash

Compare/contrast Photo No. 3-4. The batteries in my external flash unit were almost drained completely by the time I shot the photos. As a result, the flash worked sometimes and didn’t work other times. I’m fairly certain the flash didn’t fire for the Photo No. 3, and equally certain it fired for Photo No. 4. Some photographers might contend the no-flash photo is “arty”; I contend Photo No. 4 — the fill-flash version — has better color balance, color saturation, and more detail in the shadows.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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“Bender” on bark

June 20, 2018

I nicknamed this male Gray Petaltail dragonfly (Tachopteryx thoreyi) “Bender” because of his malformed abdomen.

06 JUN 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (male)

Bender is shown perched on a tree that fell across a forested seep. It’s possible the tree makes the seep seepier, and that’s a good thing for the Gray Petaltail larvae that are well-adapted for this specific type of habitat.

06 JUN 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (male)

Just look at that face — Bender exudes personality! In the following photo, Bender perched in a spot so that he was looking at me directly. Yep, that’s when we bonded.

06 JUN 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (male)

Next post: “Bender” on grass. No, wait — that doesn’t sound right!

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Ebony Jewelwing damselfly (male)

June 18, 2018

Look for Ebony Jewelwing damselflies (Calopteryx maculata) beginning in late-May/early-June along almost any small- to mid-size forested stream in Northern Virginia (USA).

This individual is a male, as indicated by the all-black coloration of his wings and by his terminal appendages.

Ebony Jewelwing is a member of Family Calopterygidae (Broad-winged Damselflies). American Rubyspot (Hetaerina americana) is the only other species of Broad-winged Damselfly found in Northern Virginia.

Related Resource: The adult flight period for Ebony Jewelwing is from April 27 to October 06, 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.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Tree-hugger

June 16, 2018

The following photo shows a Gray Petaltail dragonfly (Tachopteryx thoreyi) that was spotted near a forested seep. This individual is a male, as indicated by his “indented” hind wings and terminal appendages.

06 JUN 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (male)

This guy bounced off my left shoulder before he landed on a nearby tree. Gray Petaltail readily perch on gray and tan colored surfaces, including clothing like the “sand” colored long-sleeve t-shirt and khaki vest I was wearing at the time of my close encounter with one of the Grays.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Sable strong

June 14, 2018

A few days after my first spotting of Sable Clubtail dragonflies (Stenogomphurus rogersi) at a small forested stream located in Fairfax County, Virginia USA, I was happy to see several Sable during a return trip to the same place.

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

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

The male was perched in a small, sunny clearing alongside the stream during mid-morning. As direct sunlight shifted toward the stream, several males started perching on vegetation overhanging the creek, about a foot-or-two above the water.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Introducing “Bender”

June 12, 2018

Gray Petaltail dragonfly (Tachopteryx thoreyi) was spotted at a forested seep. This individual is a male, as indicated by his “indented” hind wings and terminal appendages.

06 JUN 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (male)

I nicknamed this male “Bender” because of his malformed abdomen. Bender is a scrappy fighter who aggressively defended his territory against other odonate intruders!

More photos of Bender will be published in one or more upcoming blog posts.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Sable Clubtail dragonfly (male)

June 10, 2018

A Sable Clubtail dragonfly (Stenogomphurus rogersi) was spotted perched alongside a small forested stream located in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his “indented” hind wings and terminal appendages.

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

The following photo shows the lotic habitat in which Sable Clubtail lives. You’re looking down into the stream channel: the channel is a few feet deep; the stream itself is no more than a foot wide and a few inches deep.

08 JUN 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | small stream

When I scouted the location during the off-season I recall thinking, “I don’t see clubtails coming from this tiny stream!” Once again I am reminded that dismissive thinking can be wrong-headed.

Sable Clubtail has a limited range and is classified as a rare to uncommon species of odonate. It is a prized addition to my “life list” of dragonflies!

The following map shows all official records for Sable Clubtail in the United States of America.

DSA Distribution Viewer | Sable Clubtail

Source Credit: Abbott, J.C. 2006-2018. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata. Available at http://www.odonatacentral.org. (Accessed: June 11, 2018).

Key: blue dots = Dot Map Project; green dots = Accepted records; yellow dots = Pending records.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Camouflage

June 8, 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 “indented” hind wings and terminal appendages.

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

Look closely at the full-size version of all three images. Notice the dragonfly is eating a large, cream-colored winged insect, probably either a butterfly or moth.

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

Many photographers “chimp” after every photo they take, that is, look at the image on the camera LCD. I chimp rarely — you can’t be sure an image is tack-sharp until you look at it on a large-screen display. In this case, it was so difficult to see the dragonfly perched on similarly colored tree bark that I chimped to be sure I’d actually nailed the shot. Don’t be fooled by the images in this post — significantly enhanced by post-processing — it was nearly impossible to see the subject!

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

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Nature girl

June 6, 2018

The following photos show a female Gray Petaltail dragonfly (Tachopteryx thoreyi) that was perched on a fallen tree along a trail in the forest.

Some insect photographers prefer the subject posed on a natural background rather than man-made structures. I just shoot them wherever I find them, especially when the subject is as difficult to find as this one!

The first photo is the best one in the set, in the opinion of the author.

30 MAY 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (female)

Whenever possible, I like to get as close to the subject as possible. Look closely at the lower-right corner of the next photo and you should notice the tip of the right forewing is clipped. That’s a big no-no for me and I wouldn’t publish the photo if it weren’t for the extraordinarily sharp detail visible in the full-size version of the image.

30 MAY 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (female)

I was too close for good photo composition and a little too close for the comfort of the dragonfly — she flew to a nearby perch a few feet from the one shown above.

30 MAY 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (female)

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Che bella faccia!

June 4, 2018

The title means “What a beautiful face!” in Italian.

30 MAY 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (female)

Just look at her — isn’t she beautiful? Rhetorical question. I’m especially fond of the black “T” shape, technically known as the anteclypeus, located between the postclypeus and labrum. Huh?

Zoom in on the full-size version of the preceding photo. Notice her face is comprised of several sections. From top-to-bottom, the sections are as follows: frons (white); postclypeus (white); anteclypeus (black); labrum (white with a black stripe down the middle).

Related Resources

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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