Posts Tagged ‘friendly Sympetrum spp.’

Thermal energy vampire!

November 24, 2017

The following photographs show an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) perching on Walter Sanford (hey, that’s me!) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages.

All three photos were taken by Lisa Young during a photowalk with me along Easy Road.

Most dragonflies are skittish. Some species of dragonflies are “friendly,” such as Blue Corporal dragonflies (Ladona deplanata) and Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum). It’s probably not a coincidence that both types of dragonflies are early- and late-season species, when the ambient air temperature is cooler.

Some odonate experts speculate dragonflies perch on people in order to absorb thermal energy radiated by the relatively warm human body. Or in this case, a black backpack — a good spot since darker-colored objects absorb and re-radiate thermal energy more quickly than lighter-colored objects.

Related Resource: Five Guys, a blog post by Walter Sanford featuring photos of male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies taken before the meet-up with Liza Young.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

What’s yours is mine

January 8, 2016

Dragonflies, especially the “friendly species,” have no understanding of either personal space or property rights. Of course that’s only part of their appeal!

The following individual is a male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum), perching on the leg of my Columbia convertible pants. I spotted this guy at the “accidental vernal pool,” my nickname for a vernal pool located near the terminus of the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park that was created accidentally during construction of the new water control system.

The last three photos show another male, perching on my Coleman camp stool, near the small observation platform above the water control system.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Say hello to my little friends!

November 21, 2015

Ever feel like bugs are crawling all over your body? Sometimes the feeling is real! The Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) were especially “friendly” during a recent visit to Huntley Meadows Park, landing on me frequently as Michael Powell and I were searching for Great Spreadwing damselflies (Archilestes grandis).

My Photos

The following individual is a male, perching on the leg of my Columbia convertible pants. Regular readers of my photoblog know I’m especially fond of head-tilts in which the dragonfly seems to display some of its personality. Like this guy, who I imagine is thinking “What are you looking at? That’s right pal, I’m perching on your pants!”

The next photo shows two individuals perching on my pants, both females, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

The last individual is another female. I shot this photo by bending over at the waist and shooting the photo upside down. Apple “Aperture” detected the orientation of my camera and automatically flipped the image vertically.

Mike Powell’s Photos

Mike was in a better position than me to shoot photos of some of the dragonflies that landed on me.

I highly recommend shooting the same subject … with another photographer and comparing results. It’s fascinating and instructive to get a sense of how a single situation can be interpreted and how each photographer makes a whole series of creative choices that result in very different images. Source Credit: Garter Snake in November, by Mike Powell.

The following mating pair is shown “in tandem,” perching on my upper thigh: the male is on top; the female on the bottom. My viewpoint made it impossible to take a good photo of this pair — good thing Mike was nearby to record my close encounter of the odonate kind!

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11 NOV 2015 | Photograph used with permission from Michael Powell.

The next photo shows a female perching on my right forearm. Tough shot for a lefty! (See below.)

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11 NOV 2015 | Photograph used with permission from Michael Powell.

The last photo shows a female perching on the heel of my right hand, near my wrist. Although I’m left-handed, the shutter button is always on the right side of cameras — a one-handed shot was impossible for me in this situation. Again, Mike to the rescue!

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11 NOV 2015 | Photograph used with permission from Michael Powell.

Related Resource: Meadowhawk Mike

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

More friendly Autumn Meadowhawks

October 28, 2015

Two more “friendly” Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) were spotted recently at Huntley Meadows Park. Both of these individuals are males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

The first male is shown perching on the leg of my Columbia “Aruba IV” convertible pants.

The last male is perching on my Coleman camp stool.

Related Resource: Huntley insects endorse Coleman camp stool

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Hook-up on Aruba

October 26, 2015

Most species of dragonflies are skittish; some are “friendly.” Maybe a little too friendly! Like the following mating pairs of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted recently at Huntley Meadows Park.

The first mating pair is shown “in wheel,” perching on my leg: the male is on top; the female on the bottom.

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is shown in wheel, perching on my leg (Columbia pants).

21 OCT 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, in wheel)

I’m wearing a pair Columbia “Aruba IV” convertible pants, hence the title of this blog post. And you thought I was talking about a romantic encounter on an island in the Caribbean Sea!

The pants feature “Omni-Shade™ UPF 30 sun protection” that makes the fabric reflective, and the subject was very close to my camera (remember the inverse square law of light). In order to avoid blown-out photo highlights, I needed to set my external flash unit for the lowest power ratio (1/128). The net result: slightly underexposed images of the dragonflies.

The mating pair was “in wheel” when the dragonflies landed on my leg. After a couple of minutes, the female disconnected from the male’s hamules; the pair remained “in tandem.”

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is shown in wheel/tandem, perching on my leg (Columbia pants).

21 OCT 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, in tandem)

What happens after odonates copulate? Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies engage 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 some species of odonates to prevent aggressive males from hijacking the female.

The last mating pair is shown in tandem, perching on my leg: the male is on the lower-left; the female on the upper-right.

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is shown in tandem, perching on my leg (Columbia pants).

15 OCT 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, in tandem)

The olive drab color of my Columbia pants (shown above) is less reflective than the khaki-colored pair I wore on the 21st. Net result: more balanced exposure of the subject and background.

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

First foray into macro photography

December 4, 2014

I visited Huntley Meadows Park on 30 November 2014 for my first foray into macro photography. I field tested a new Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom digital camera and Canon 580EX Speedlite external flash (fitted with a Sto-Fen OM-EW Omni-Bounce, an inexpensive plastic snap-on flash diffuser). The Raynox DCR-250, like other close-up filters and extension tubes, reduces the minimum focusing distance between the lens and subject.

The following photograph of a male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) was taken at maximum telephoto zoom (24x) without using the Raynox close-up filter. The camera was positioned near the mininum focusing distance from the subject, in this case approximately six feet (~6′). The photo was cropped from the original size of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels (12 MP) to a pixel size of 2,690 x 2,016 (5.4 MP), in order to enlarge the subject and improve the photo composition.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

ISO 100 | 107mm (600mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/5.1 | 1/800s

The same dragonfly perched on my pant leg a while later. The next photograph was taken at ~12x zoom using the Raynox close-up filter. I estimate the “working distance” between the camera and subject was approximately three-to-six inches (~3-6″). Now that’s what I call a cooperative model! The photo is uncropped from the original size of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels (12 MP) and edited lightly.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

ISO 100 | 56mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/7.1 | 1/80s

Dragonflies have the finest vision in the insect world. The compound eyes in the largest species have as many as 30,000 simple eyes (ommatidia). Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 281-282). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The next photo shows another male dragonfly perching on the boardwalk. The picture was taken at ~6x zoom using the Raynox close-up filter. The working distance was an estimated six-to-10 inches (~6-10″). The photo was cropped to a size of 3,407 x 2,555 pixels (8.7 MP) to refine the photo composition.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

ISO 100 | 27.9mm (~150mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/7.1 | 1/100s

The last photo shows an unknown species of grasshopper. The picture was taken at ~12x zoom using the Raynox close-up filter. The working distance was an estimated three-to-six inches (~3-6″). The photo was cropped to a size of 3,593 x 2,693 pixels (9.7 MP) to refine the photo composition.

Unknown grasshopper

ISO 100 | 56mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/7.1 | 1/160s

The Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter is a relatively inexpensive solution that enables my Panasonic superzoom digital camera to be used for macro photography. Set-up is quick and easy — the filter simply clips on the front of the camera lens using a universal adapter, just like a lens cap. Depth-of-field is very shallow! A cooperative subject, good light, and a lot of patience are essential for success.

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Autumn Meadowhawks like timberlands too!

November 4, 2014

The following Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) were spotted near a vernal pool in the forest during several photowalks at Huntley Meadows Park in October 2014.

My speculation is meadowhawk dragonflies — including both Autumn Meadowhawks and Blue-faced Meadowhawks — are arboreal. They live in trees for months and burst on the scene at ground/water level when it’s time to mate. [For details regarding my theory, see the “Editor’s Note” in Arboreal dragonflies like timberlands.]

Is there evidence that supports my theory? Well, the following photos clearly show Autumn Meadowhawks like timberlands. Timberland Boots, that is. Yuk-yuk!

Guys like ’em …

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

Gals like ’em …

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, perching on my Timberland Boot)

20 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

And couples like ’em too!

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in tandem, perching on my Timberland Boot)

27 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (mating pair, in tandem)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in tandem, perching on my Timberland Boot)

20 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (mating pair, in tandem)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in tandem, perching on my Timberland Boot)

20 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (mating pair, in tandem)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in tandem, perching on my Timberland Boot)

20 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (mating pair, in tandem)

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Arboreal dragonflies like timberlands

October 19, 2014

Arboreal dragonflies — dragonflies that live in or among trees — like timberlands. Timberland Boots, that is. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Hey, I see what you did there!” But seriously folks, Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) is a habitat-specific species of odonate that prefers forested locations.

Habitat: Temporary pools with sedges, wetland grasses, and often mosses, including sphagnum. Usually in woods. Source Credit: Blue-faced MeadowhawkDragonflies of Northern Virginia by Kevin Munroe, Manager, Huntley Meadows Park.

The following Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies were spotted near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park on 14 October 2014. Both individuals are males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages. The dragonflies are shown perching on my boots.

Left Foot

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my Timberland Boot)

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my Timberland Boot)

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my Timberland Boot)

Right Foot

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my Timberland Boot)

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my Timberland Boot)

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my Timberland Boot)

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my Timberland Boot)

Editor’s Note: Odonate research is an area where amateurs, like me, can contribute to what is known about dragonflies and damselflies. Although the flight period for some meadowhawk dragonflies, including Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum) and Blue-faced Meadowhawks (Sympetrum ambiguum), is from June to October-November in Northern Virginia, large numbers of meadowhawks don’t appear until fall in the mid-Atlantic United States. I wonder where meadowhawks are during the summer months. My theory is meadowhawk dragonflies are arboreal. They live in trees for months and burst on the scene at ground/water level when it’s time to mate. I asked Dennis Paulson, author of Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East, for his opinion regarding my theory.

Walter, I don’t know if [meadowhawks] are up in the trees, but for sure they are at some distance from their breeding grounds. In Japan, a very common species of meadowhawk emerges from the rice fields in summer, migrates up into the nearby mountains for up to two months, I think, then returns to the rice fields in autumn, many of them already in tandem. We don’t know if any North American meadowhawk (except Variegated) does anything that extreme, but some people have speculated that at least Autumns spend quite a long time away from the water before returning.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Meadowhawk Mike

November 30, 2013

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) like Mike! Mike Powell, that is, a.k.a. “Meadowhawk Mike.” The following photos were taken at Huntley Meadows Park on 15 November 2013. Each set of images, or individual image, features a different dragonfly (or dragonflies) perching on Mike at various times during the day. Disclaimer: No dragonflies were either injured or killed in the making of these photos.

Now you see it; now you don’t! A male dragonfly perching on Mike’s shoulder, that is. Or was.

 

A time-series of images showing a mating pair in tandem. Mating pairs are usually more skittish than this male and female.

 

Sometimes the same dragonfly — or more than one dragonfly — perched in different places.

 

Another male, testing a couple of perching places.

 

A male on Mike’s arm.

 

This isn’t an optical illusion — a male dragonfly actually is perching on Mike’s blue jeans. Well, actually it is an optical illusion — my eyes cross when I look at these photos too long!

 

A male dragonfly, with a little help from a friend, endorses an Adidas messenger bag for carrying photo gear.

 

Another mating pair in tandem, perching on the back of Mike’s sweatshirt.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in tandem)

By now you may be wondering, what’s the point? (Pun intended. That’s so like Mike, isn’t it?) Point is, Mike is a meadowhawk magnet!

 

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

The natives are friendly, redux

November 2, 2013

The following “selfies” show a male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) perching on my shoe during a photowalk through Huntley Meadows Park.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my shoe) Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my shoe)

Hey Nike, how ’bout a little something, you know, for the product placement in my photos?

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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