Archive for the ‘Yongnuo YN568EX II’ Category

Springtime Darner dragonflies (female, male)

May 8, 2020

Several Springtime Darner dragonflies (Basiaeschna janata) were spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell at an undisclosed location in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Mike spotted the first one; then we teamed up to find a few more.

Female

Female Springtime Darners are polymorphic: the spots on their abdomen are either blue (andromorphic) or green (heteromorphic); the female featured in this post is a blue andromorph.

The terminal appendages and rounded shape of the hind wings can be used to identify andromorph female Springtime Darners.

“Get a shot, any shot; refine the shot” is one my mantras for wildlife photography. The first photo is an example of what some of my odonate hunter friends call a “record shot,” that is, a shot (any shot) that serves as a record of a spotting in the field.

Notice the photo appears to have been taken using only natural light. I speculate the external flash unit didn’t “wake up” from power-saving mode when I pressed the camera shutter. Do you see why I like to use fill flash for insect photography?

02 MAY 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Springtime Darner (female)

Mike and I followed the female to a second location where we were able to shoot more photos.

02 MAY 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Springtime Darner (female)

Refine the shot. (Get closer, in this case.)

02 MAY 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Springtime Darner (female)

Male

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

02 MAY 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Springtime Darner (male)

All of the Springtime Darners that Mike and I spotted were very skittish, like the preceding male. I was only able to shoot one photo before he flew away. We couldn’t find it again.

Related Resource

Springtime Darner dragonflies” features photos of the same subject shot by Michael Powell: Mike used a DSLR camera, macro lens, and no flash to take his photos; I used a mirrorless superzoom “bridge” camera and an external flash unit to take mine.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Ashy Clubtail dragonfly (female)

May 6, 2020

An Ashy Clubtail dragonfly (Phanogomphus lividus) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell at an undisclosed location in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

02 MAY 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Ashy Clubtail (female)

This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages and rounded hind wings.

02 MAY 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Ashy Clubtail (female)

Look closely at the full-size version of all of the photos and you will notice body parts from a crane fly that the dragonfly was eating during this brief time-series of photos. Also notice the spider that photo-bombed the following image (shown to the far left).

02 MAY 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Ashy Clubtail (female)

Related Resource

Ashy Clubtail Close-ups” features photos of the same subject shot by Michael Powell: Mike used a DSLR camera, macro lens, and no flash to take his photos; I used a mirrorless superzoom “bridge” camera and an external flash unit to take mine.

Editorial Commentary

The Dragonfly Society of the Americas (DSA) released a new version of their “Odonata Central” Web site recently. The primary goal was to upgrade the process for searching and submitting official records for odonates.

Good intentions notwithstanding, one BIG CASUALTY of the update is the identification guides for almost every species of odonate in North America are no longer online. Site visitors looking for those resources are redirected to use “Dragonfly ID,” a third-party app for iOS and Android mobile devices.

In my strong opinion, an app is NEVER an adequate substitute for a Web-based reference library. For example, how can I point readers of my blog to specific resources in the “Dragonfly ID” app? I can’t, and as a result, many opportunities for informal science education are missed.

As a case in point, “All About Birds — Your Online Guide to Birds and Bird Watching” predates the release of the “Merlin Bird ID” app by many years. I’m fairly certain the Cornell Lab of Ornithology NEVER considered pulling the plug on “All About Birds” when they were developing their excellent app for bird identification. The two resources are complementary, not exclusive.

What’s done is done. As a consequence of the update, my photoblog is littered with broken links to what was once the authoritative online reference for North American odonates.

Currently there is no perfect substitute for the old DSA Odonata Central identification guides. Beginning with this post I will provide pointers to The Dragonflies and Damselflies of North Carolina Web site. For example, the photo captions in this blog post include links to the page for Ashy Clubtail (Phanogomphus lividus), featuring an interactive, annotated photo that provides tips for identification of this species. Well done, North Carolina!

And while I’m talking about North Carolina’s excellent ode-related Web site let me ask the obvious question: Hey Virginia, where’s ours?

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

What is it?

February 7, 2020

It’s time for another exciting edition of “What is it?” Well, what is shown in the following photograph? If you think you know what it is, then please leave a comment. The answer will be provided in a post update.

03 FEB 2020 | Occoquan Regional Park | What is it?

Post Update

Congratulations to the two readers who correctly identified the mantis ootheca shown in the preceding photo! (See Comments/Responses, below.)

This is a Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) egg case, as indicated by the distinctive roundish shape of the ootheca. Chinese Mantis is a non-native species.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Skunk cabbage flowers

February 5, 2020

The following photo gallery shows skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) flowers in a forest seep located at Occoquan Regional Park (ORP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This is ideal habitat for Gray Petaltail dragonfly (Tachopteryx thoreyi) larvae, and in fact, numerous adult “Grays” have been observed along a sunny trail near this location. Seeps are home for some species of larvae from Family Cordulegastridae (Spiketails) as well.

03 FEB 2020 | ORP | forest seep, with skunk cabbage flowers

03 FEB 2020 | ORP | forest seep, with skunk cabbage flowers

03 FEB 2020 | ORP | forest seep, with skunk cabbage flowers

03 FEB 2020 | ORP | forest seep, with skunk cabbage flowers

The last photo shows the same location during early Summer 2019. The plant with broad green leaves is skunk cabbage.

01 JUN 2019 | ORP | forest seep, with skunk cabbage

The following quote is perhaps the best description of a forest seep that I’ve read.

[Some] small tributaries … have their sources in numerous woodland seeps. While a few of these perennial springs bubble up out of the ground, most arise in moist hillside patches with lots of decaying leaf litter and luxuriant stands of skunk cabbage. Source Credit: White, Harold B., III. Natural History of Delmarva Dragonflies and Damselflies (Cultural Studies of Delaware and the Eastern Shore) (Kindle Locations 1213-1215). University Press Copublishing Division. Kindle Edition.

Related Resource: Skunk Cabbage: First Flower of the Year… by Alonso Abugattas, Capital Naturalist blog. The blog post includes an embedded link to an informative video by Mr. Abugattas: Capital Naturalist: Skunk Cabbage Blooming (3:58).

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


%d bloggers like this: