Posts Tagged ‘Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge’

Stream Cruiser dragonfly (male)

April 14, 2017

Another Stream Cruiser dragonfly (Didymops transversa) was spotted during a photowalk along Beaver Pond Loop Trail at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

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

Stream Cruiser dragonflies typically perch at a 45° angle because of their extremely long legs, especially noticeable in the last photo.

For another perspective on the same male, both literally and figuratively, see Stream Cruiser dragonfly by fellow photoblogger Michael Powell.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Stream Cruiser dragonfly (female)

April 12, 2017

A Stream Cruiser dragonfly (Didymops transversa) was spotted during a photowalk along Beaver Pond Loop Trail at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a female, as indicated by her rounded hind wings and terminal appendages. Look closely at the face and head of the dragonfly. Can you see why “ice cream sandwich face” is my nickname for Stream Cruiser?

The female landed long enough for me to shoot four photos before she flew away — not enough time for me to point her out to Michael Powell, a fellow amateur wildlife photographer and blogger who joined me in search of his first Stream Cruiser. Fortunately, Mike and I were able to photograph a male Stream Cruiser later the same afternoon. Look for photos of the male in my next blog post.

Addendum

I cropped the photo into a square format in order to remove a distracting element. Can you tell what I dislike about the original version? I prefer the square format. Which version do you prefer?

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail (teneral female)

April 6, 2017

After a seemingly endless off-season, I’m pleased to report odonate hunting season has begun in Northern Virginia!

05 APR 2017 | ABWR | Common Whitetail (teneral female)

A Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was spotted during a photowalk along Beaver Pond Loop Trail at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge (ABWR), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a teneral female, as indicated by her terminal appendages and the tenuous appearance of her wings.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Beautiful butterflies can be ugly!

February 9, 2017

Butterflies are beautiful, right? Usually. And they feed on beautiful flowers, right? Not always, as shown below.

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) spotted at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, feeding on scat.

20 MAY 2016 | ABWR | Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (male)

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) was spotted along Great Blue Heron Trail at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge (ABWR), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, feeding on mineral salts in scat (possibly raccoon).

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Bridges

January 20, 2017

As an avid odonate hunter, I photowalk/streamwalk many scenic locations. I’m fond of bridges, especially railroad bridges.

The first photo shows a view of the underside of the new suspension bridge across Accotink Creek at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge (ABWR), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

A scenic view of the underside of the suspension bridge that crosses Accotink Creek at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

07 AUG 2016 | ABWR | new suspension bridge across Accotink Creek

The next photo shows the view looking upstream toward the ruins of a Civil War era railroad bridge that used to cross Pope’s Head Creek at Chapel Road Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Looking upstream toward the ruins of a Civil War era railroad bridge that used to cross Pope's Head Creek, Chapel Road Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

22 AUG2016 | Chapel Road Park | bridge ruins at Pope’s Head Creek

The last photo shows the view looking downstream toward a modern era railroad bridge across Pope’s Head Creek near Chapel Road Park.

Looking downstream toward modern era railroad bridge that crosses Pope's Head Creek, Chapel Road Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

29 AUG 2016 | Chapel Road Park | railroad bridge at Pope’s Head Creek

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue-fronted Dancer damselfly (female)

January 18, 2017

Blue-fronted Dancer damselfly (Argia apicalis) was spotted during a photowalk along Accotink Creek Trail at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge (ABWR), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. An old wooden boardwalk is located near the terminus of the trail.

A Blue-fronted Dancer damselfly (Argia apicalis) spotted along Accotink Creek at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

07 AUG 2016 | ABWR | Blue-fronted Dancer (female andromorph)

This individual is a female andromorph, as indicated by her coloration and terminal appendages. Females have a noticeably thicker abdomen than males.

Female Blue-fronted Dancers are polymorphic: andromorph females are blue like males; heteromorph females are brown. Andromorph females tend to be a lighter shade of blue than males of the same species, and do not feature the same blue coloration as males on abdominal segments eight, nine, and 10 (S8-10).

A Blue-fronted Dancer damselfly (Argia apicalis) spotted along Accotink Creek at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

07 AUG 2016 | ABWR | Blue-fronted Dancer (female andromorph)

The taxonomic classification of Blue-fronted Dancer is as follows: Order Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies); Suborder Zygoptera (Damselflies); Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies); Genus Argia (Dancers); Species apicalis.

Related Resources: Excellent digital scans created by Gayle and Jeanelle Strickland. Click on the button labeled “Download file” in order to view full-size version of the graphics.

Editor’s Note: This is the first female Blue-fronted Dancer that I’ve seen/photographed. Thanks to Michael Moore and Ed Lam, members of the Northeast Odonata Facebook group, for verifying my tentative identification. Dr. Michael Moore is an active contributor to the Dragonfly and Damselfly Field Guide and ID App; Ed Lam is author and illustrator of Damselflies of the Northeast.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

The Taming of the Shrew

January 4, 2017

A short-tailed shrew carcass was spotted during a photowalk along the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park. According to Alonso Abugattas — Natural Resources Manager, Arlington County Parks, Virginia — this individual is probably a Kirtland’s Short-tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda kirtlandi).

A short-tailed shrew carcass spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is probably a Kirtland's Short-tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda kirtlandi). The flies are probably Common Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia sericata).

01 JUN 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | short-tailed shrew carcass

The colorful flies are probably Common Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia sericata).

A short-tailed shrew carcass spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is probably a Kirtland's Short-tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda kirtlandi). The flies are probably Common Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia sericata).

01 JUN 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | short-tailed shrew carcass

Another short-tailed shrew carcass was spotted at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is probably a Kirtland’s Short-tailed Shrew too.

A short-tailed shrew carcass spotted at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is probably a Kirtland's Short-tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda kirtlandi).

07 AUG 2016 | Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge | short-tailed shrew carcass

Look closely at the full-size version of the preceding photo. Notice several small insects feeding on the fresh carcass.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Life-list additions in 2016

December 28, 2016

2016 was the “Year of the Clubtail dragonfly.” Unofficially, that is. Or maybe it only seems like I saw a lot more clubtail dragonflies than in past years, including four new species for my life-list of odonates. Not that I actually maintain a list — it’s more like a memory file in my brain.

There were three other non-odonate “firsts” this year, one of which was a long time coming! My life-list additions in 2016 are presented in reverse-chronological order.

Shadow Darner dragonfly

Shadow Darner dragonfly (female), posted on 18 October 2016.

Although I’ve seen many male Shadow Darners, this is the first female I photographed.

A Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female heteromorph.

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Shadow Darner (female heteromorph)

Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly

Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (male), posted on 26 September 2016.

I spent a lot of time unsuccessfully looking for Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonflies at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge. Soon after I surrendered in defeat, a Russet-tipped Clubtail found me. Imagine my surprise and delight when I spotted one at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR). Whoa, didn’t see that one coming!

Clearwing Moths

Clearwing Moths (Genus Hemaris), published on 04 October 2016.

Dusky Dancer damselfly

Dusky Dancer damselflies (mating pair), published on 12 September 2016.

A mating pair of Dusky Dancer damselflies (Argia translata) spotted along Pope's Head Creek at Chapel Road Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in tandem."

29 AUG 2016 | Chapel Road Park | Dusky Dancer (mating pair)

Black-shouldered Spinyleg dragonfly

Black-shouldered Spinyleg (male), published on 11 August 2016.

Eastern Ringtail dragonfly

Eastern Ringtail dragonflies (males), published on 13 August 2016.

Powdered Dancer damselfly

Powdered Dancer (males, female), published on 23 August 2016.

A Powdered Dancer damselfly (Argia moesta) spotted along the Potomac River at Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

04 AUG 2016 | Riverbend Park | Powdered Dancer (male)

Swift Setwing dragonfly

Making new friends, published on 10 July 2016.

A Swift Setwing dragonfly (Dythemis velox) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

26 JUN 2016 | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

Dragonhunter dragonfly

Dragonhunter dragonfly (female), published on 24 June 2016.

This is the first female Dragonhunter I photographed.

A Dragonhunter dragonfly (Hagenius brevistylus) spotted at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

21 June 2016 | Dragonhunter dragonfly (female)

Calico Pennant dragonfly

Calico Pennant dragonflies (males), published on 20 June 2016.

A Calico Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis elisa) spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Calico Pennant (male)

Prince Baskettail dragonfly

Changing of the guard, published on 16 June 2016.

Although I’ve seen many Prince Baskettail dragonflies, this one is the first I photographed. Prince Baskettails are fliers, not perchers.

A Prince Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca princeps) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, shown in flight.

14 JUN 2016 | JMAWR | Prince Baskettail (male, in flight)

Slender Bluet damselfly

Slender Bluet damselflies (mating pair), published on 24 October 2016.

A mating pair of Slender Bluet damselflies (Enallagma traviatum) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in heart."

14 JUN 2016 | JMAWR | Slender Bluet (mating pair, “in heart”)

Common Sanddragon dragonfly

Common Sanddragon dragonfly (emergent male), published on 08 June 2016.

Although this was the second emergent dragonfly I saw during 2016, this was the first time I was able to observe the entire metamorphosis from beginning to end.

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

01 JUN 2016 | WP/DC | Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly

Cobra Clubtail dragonfly

Cobra Clubtail claspers, published on 19 May 2016.

A Cobra Clubtail dragonfly (Gomphus vastus) spotted at Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

16 MAY 2016 | Riverbend Park | Cobra Clubtail (male)

Polyphemus Silkmoth

Polyphemus Silkmoth, published on 21 April 2016.

A Polyphemus Silkmoth (Antheraea polyphemus) was spotted along the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park.

Spring Peeper frog

Spring Peeper, published on 01 May 2016.

Although I’ve heard Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) every spring for many years, this is the first one I saw.

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

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Spangled Skimmer dragonfly (teneral male)

June 6, 2016

Spangled Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula cyanea) was spotted along Beaver Pond Loop Trail at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge (ABWR).

A Spangled Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula cyanea) spotted at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a teneral male.

20 MAY 2016 | ABWR | Spangled Skimmer (teneral male)

This individual is a teneral male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages. As a mature male, his eyes will be dark bluish-black and blue pruinescence will cover its body (thorax and abdomen).

A Spangled Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula cyanea) spotted at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a teneral male.

20 MAY 2016 | ABWR | Spangled Skimmer (teneral male)

Tech Tips:

The first photo of the dragonfly was taken by looking through a “keyhole” in a thicket of vegetation. Two camera settings are critical for enabling this type of shot: Autofocus Mode (one-area-focusing, using center focus point); and Metering Mode (Spot).

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Another female Stream Cruiser?

May 9, 2016

It’s possible the female Stream Cruiser dragonfly (Didymops transversa) in this gallery — spotted on 20 April 2016 at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge — is the same individual featured in a photoblog post published on 23 April 2016.

A Stream Cruiser dragonfly (Didymops transversa) spotted at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

This is the second photo set that I shot of female Stream Cruisers spotted along the same segment of Beaver Pond Loop Trail. Although the two female dragonflies were perching on opposite sides of the trail, this female could be the same one that I spooked a few minutes earlier when I moved too close for her comfort.

A Stream Cruiser dragonfly (Didymops transversa) spotted at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

This individual is a female as indicated by the pair of white terminal appendages (cerci) at the end of her abdomen, clearly visible in the following photo.

A Stream Cruiser dragonfly (Didymops transversa) spotted at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

Stream Cruiser dragonflies have extremely long legs, especially noticeable in the last photo. The abdomen of female Stream Cruisers is thicker than males of the same species, similar to many species of odonates.

A Stream Cruiser dragonfly (Didymops transversa) spotted at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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