Posts Tagged ‘Huntley Meadows Park’

More Mocha males

July 20, 2018

Nearly two weeks after my last visit to Huntley Meadows Park in search of Mocha Emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora linearis), I revisited the small forested stream in search of Mocha exuviae.

No luck finding exuviae, but hey, I decided to make lemonade from lemons and photograph a couple of Mocha males that hung up near each other, especially since there were noticeably fewer S. linearis in contrast with my last trip to the site.

Male 1

Both individuals are male, as indicated by their “indented” hind wings and terminal appendages.

Male 2

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Mocha male

July 10, 2018

The following photos show a Mocha Emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora linearis) perched alongside a small stream in the forest at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages.

Mocha Emerald appears dark and featureless when viewed with the unaided eye in the shade of the forest canopy. More detail is revealed with added light from a fill flash.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

When Mocha flies

July 8, 2018

Many Mocha Emerald dragonflies (Somatochlora linearis) were spotted along a small stream in a remote location at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Most of the creek is shaded by the forest canopy — the perfect habitat for Mocha and mosquitos, a primary food source for all species of odonates.

05 JUL 2018 | HMP | Mocha Emerald (male, in flight)

Both individuals are male, shown hovering in flight above the water. Mocha Emerald males patrol back-and-forth along a short segment of the stream, stopping to hover in place sometimes.

05 JUL 2018 | HMP | Mocha Emerald (male, in flight)

Adult flight period

The adult flight period  for Mocha Emerald is from 16 June to 16 September (peaks in July-August), according to records for Northern Virginia maintained by Kevin Munroe, former manager at Huntley Meadows Park. In my experience, July is Mocha month in Northern Virginia.

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, 22 June to 10 October is the adult flight period for Mocha Emerald.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail (immature males)

May 7, 2018

A first-of-season Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was spotted perching on the ground near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an immature male, as indicated by his terminal appendages, brown colored abdomen, and pattern of wing spots.

30 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | Common Whitetail (immature male)

Another immature male was spotted along an informal trail at a remote location in the park.

30 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | Common Whitetail (immature male)

Young male Common Whitetails begin to develop white pruinescence that changes the color of their abdomen from brown to white, hence the common name for this species.

Sexing Common Whitetail dragonflies

For many of the common species of odonates found in Northern Virginia, I created a collection of annotated guides that illustrates how to differentiate gender by looking at terminal appendages. The difference in the pattern of wings spots for male and female Common Whitetails is sufficient to identify gender.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail dragonfly (female)

May 5, 2018

Common Whitetail dragonflies (Plathemis lydia) are like bad party guests: they are among the first to arrive and last to leave. Nonetheless, it was good to see one on a day when almost no adult odonate species were observed.

30 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | Common Whitetail (female)

A Common Whitetail was spotted perching on a man-made brush pile near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages and pattern of wing spots.

30 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | Common Whitetail (female)

The “schmutz” that appears at the tip of her abdomen is probably excrement. Hey, schmutz happens!

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

A good spot for spiketails and emeralds

April 23, 2018

21 APR 2017 | Huntley Meadows Park | Little Hunting Creek

The preceding photo shows a view of the forest, seen from the banks of Little Hunting Creek as it flows through Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The forest floor is carpeted with Spring Beauty wildflowers (Claytonia virginica).

Little Hunting Creek is a good place to look for Twin-spotted Spiketail dragonflies (Cordulegaster maculata). Arrowhead Spiketail dragonflies (Cordulegaster obliqua) and Mocha Emerald dragonflies (Somatochlora linearis) have been observed at the same site.

Tech Tip: I used my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom camera to shoot the landscape photo featured in this blog post. The camera was set for manual focus at the hyperfocal distance for an aperture of f/4, based upon the instructions provided in the excellent video tutorial by Graham Houghton, “Panasonic Lumix FZ camera easier manual focus method — super point-and-shoot tip.”

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Male Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies

February 4, 2018

On the same day that I saw a male Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) with an eye injury, one or more other males were photographed at the same location in Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

Please look at the full-size version of each photo in order to fully appreciate these handsome little devils!

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Familiar Bluet damselfly (female)

February 2, 2018

A Familiar Bluet damselfly (Enallagma civile) was spotted near a drainage ditch at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

The damselfly appears to be eating a smaller black insect, possibly a spider.

Editor’s Note: Sincere thanks to Mike Boatwright for verifying my tentative identification of the damselfly.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Eye injury

January 31, 2018

A Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) was spotted near a vernal pool at remote location in Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages.

When I post-processed the RAW images of the male dragonfly I noticed he has an eye injury, highlighted in the following annotated image.

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male, with eye injury)

(See a full-size version of the original photo, without annotation.)

The eye injury can be seen in two more photos of the same male.

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male, with eye injury)

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male, with eye injury)

Related Resource: Eye injury, a blog post by Walter Sanford, featuring photos of a female andromorph Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly spotted on 18 September 2013 along the boardwalk of the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Another black snake

January 19, 2018

A few days before I spotted the black snake featured in my last blog post, I saw another black snake at the same location in Huntley Meadows Park. In fact, I was so focused on searching for Great Spreadwing damselflies that I almost stepped on the snake!

This individual is probably an Eastern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis), as indicated by the appearance of its eyes.

22 OCT 2017 | Huntley Meadows Park | black snake

My close encounter of the startling kind shows the snake slithering along a carpet of leaf litter on the ground, heading toward one of several man-made brush piles near a vernal pool at a remote location in the park.

The last two photos show the snake moving around inside the brush pile. According to Kevin Munroe, former manager at Huntley Meadows Park, brush piles are “like a natural cupboard” where snakes hunt for small rodents.

22 OCT 2017 | Huntley Meadows Park | black snake

Eastern Ratsnakes have keeled scales, shown clearly in the full-size version of the preceding photo.

Keeled scales refer to reptile scales that, rather than being smooth, have a ridge down the center that may or may not extend to the tip of the scale, making them rough to the touch. Source Credit: Keeled scales, Wikipedia.

Thanks to Timothy Deering for sharing this field marker in a comment on my last blog post.

22 OCT 2017 | Huntley Meadows Park | black snake

Related Resource: Black snake, a blog post by Walter Sanford.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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