Posts Tagged ‘immature male’

Icebreaker

June 8, 2020

When I go looking for rare-to-uncommon species of odonates, I like to take a few “warm-up shots” at the beginning of the photowalk in order to be sure all my photography gear is working properly — the moment you find your target species is the wrong time to be fiddling around with camera settings or troubleshooting an external flash unit that isn’t firing!

The following photo is one of my “warm-up shots” from a recent photowalk with Michael Powell at a location in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

26 MAY 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Common Whitetail (immature male)

Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) is a common species of dragonfly. Plathemis lydia is a “habitat generalist” that can be found almost anywhere there is water. It is one of the first species to appear in spring and one of the last species to disappear in fall.

This individual is an immature male, as indicated by the brown coloration of his abdomen, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Are adult Autumn Meadowhawks arboreal?

October 25, 2019

Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) is classified as a fall species of odonate. In the mid-Atlantic United States, meadowhawks seem to disappear for several months after they emerge during early to mid-summer and reappear during fall. Where do they go? No one knows for sure. I speculate Autumn Meadowhawk is an arboreal species of dragonfly that returns to the ground/water when it’s time to mate.

Emergence

The first individual — photographed soon after emergence — is a/an teneral/immature male, as indicated by the tenuous appearance of his wings, coloration, and terminal appendages.

24 JUN 2016 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (teneral/immature male)

The next individual is a/an teneral/immature female, as indicated by the tenuous appearance of her wings, coloration, and terminal appendages.

24 JUN 2016 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (teneral/immature female)

Time to mate

Fall is the time to mate for mature adult Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (S. vicinum), as you can see in the following photo.

15 NOV 2013 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel”)

This mating pair is “in wheel”: the male is on the upper-left; the female is on the lower-right. All dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back: male dragonfly secondary genitalia, called hamules, are located in segments two and three (S2 and S3); female genitalia in segment eight (S8). Dragonflies form the mating wheel in order for their genitalia to connect during copulation.

Forest Canopy Walk at Vermont Institute of Natural Science

Observing dragonflies at the Earth’s surface is fairly easy; observing dragonflies at the treetops, not so much. The new Forest Canopy Walk at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) should facilitate the latter.

During 2020, I hope to collaborate with Kelly Stettner, Black River Action Team (BRAT), and Anna Morris, Lead Environmental Educator, VINS, to gather evidence that supports my speculation that adult meadowhawk dragonflies are arboreal. Field observations will be collected on the ground and along the Forest Canopy Walk.

Hosted by Anna Morris, Kelly Stettner and her family scouted the VINS site on 05 October 2019, including the new Forest Canopy Walk and nearby water bodies that provide suitable habitat for Autumn Meadowhawk. Special thanks to Anna for providing a behind the scenes tour a week before the official opening of the Forest Canopy Walk.

Gallery photos used with permission from Kelly Stettner, BRAT.

A week later, Autumn Meadowhawk was observed along the Forest Canopy Walk for the first time. The following photos provide circumstantial evidence that we might be on the right track. I love it when a plan comes together!

Gallery photos used with permission from Anna Morris, VINS.

I’m happy to share that during our public Forest Canopy Walk opening today [12 October 2019], I was stationed at the Eagle platform and got to see two (2) meadowhawks zooming around, then perched on the railing (pictures attached)! This is about 60 feet up, near a Sugar Maple and a Red Oak. [More meadowhawks were seen] the next day at nearly 90 feet up! At this height and as it was so sunny there were at least four individuals zooming around, landing on visitors, etc. Source Credit: Anna Morris, Lead Environmental Educator, VINS.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blown away!

August 19, 2019

A Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was spotted at the Painted Turtle Pond Environmental Study Area, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

This individual is an immature male, as indicated by his brown coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages.

Gear Talk

“Expose for the highlights” is a well-known rule of thumb in photography, that is, adjust the camera settings so the highlights are exposed perfectly.

The preceding photo was a test shot. The highlights are almost blown out completely because the flash power ratio was set too high for proper exposure of the scene; the dragonfly flew away before I could reduce the flash power.

All of that being said, there’s something about this image that I like. It reminds me of an old, faded black-and-white photo print. The word “sepia” comes to mind.

Related Resource: Common Whitetail dragonflies (young males, mature males)

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Shine on you crazy diamond!

July 22, 2019

Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) was spotted along a small stream in the forest at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA.

21 JUN 2019 | PNC. Wm. County, VA | Widow Skimmer (immature male)

This individual is an immature male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages.

Gear Talk

The preceding photo was challenging, exposure-wise — the ambient light spanned the entire range from light to dark. The problem was made worse by the behavior of the Widow Skimmer: the dragonfly didn’t sit still; it flitted from one perch to another so I felt rushed to “get a shot, any shot.”

The subject is slightly overexposed, most noticeably along the yellow line on top of the thorax. Using my new “set it and forget it” configuration for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 superzoom digital camera, I’m still adjusting to the fact that exposure compensation isn’t an option when shooting in Manual Mode.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Widow Skimmer (immature male)

July 12, 2019

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) was spotted near a small pond at Occoquan Regional Park (ORP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

01 JUN 2019 | ORP | Widow Skimmer (immature male)

This individual is an immature male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages. He is hunkered down in a hidey-hole, almost out of sight.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Golden Boy

July 5, 2019

A Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) was spotted at Occoquan Regional Park (ORP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is an immature male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages. The yellowish-red coloration of this specimen could mislead you into thinking it’s a female. Be aware that the same species of dragonfly may appear differently depending upon gender, age, and natural variation.

At this stage in the male’s maturation, his coloration is similar to females of the same species. As a mature male, the front of his thorax and abdomen will be covered by red pruinescence.

Related Resource: Posts Tagged ‘Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly’

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Faked out!

May 13, 2019

A Blue Corporal dragonfly (Ladona deplanata) was perched on a tree alongside Wildlife Loop trail at the North Tract of Patuxent Research Refuge, Anne Arundel County, Maryland USA. This individual is an immature male, as indicated by its lighter coloration and terminal appendages.

My good friend Mike Powell and I were searching for Harlequin Darner (Gomphaeschna furcillata). At first glance, we thought we might have found our first Harlequin; after a closer look, we realized we’d been faked out by a Blue Corporal.

Another Blue Corporal dragonfly was perched on the great red spot of the planet Jupiter. Kidding! Seriously, Blue Corporals typically perch on the ground — this dragonfly was perched on a wooden boardwalk near a small pond.

The last two individuals are mature males, as indicated by their darker coloration and terminal appendages.

Predator-prey relationship?

There is some speculation that Blue Corporal dragonflies might prey upon Harlequin Darners, so Mike and I weren’t happy to see lots of mature Blue Corporals in our target search area. For what it’s worth, we hunted intensively for Harlequin Darner for hours and found only one individual; G. furcillata was described as “relatively abundant” two-to-three weeks earlier at the same location, before Blue Corporal began emerging.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Widow Skimmer dragonfly (immature male)

July 4, 2018

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) was spotted during a photowalk at Occoquan Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is an immature male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages. As a mature male, the front of his thorax and abdomen will be covered by white pruinescence.

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.

New discoveries in 2017 (odonates)

December 28, 2017

There’s always more to discover/learn! My odonate-related new discoveries in 2017 are presented in reverse-chronological order.

Fine-lined Emerald dragonfly

A Fine-lined Emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora filosa) was spotted at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is one of several males spotted during a period of a week-or-so in mid-September 2017.

Immature male Calico Pennant

20 JUN 2017 | OBNWR | Calico Pennant (immature male)

A Calico Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis elisa) was spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is an immature male. Notice its coloration is similar to female Calico Pennants.

Allegheny River Cruiser dragonfly

An Allegheny River Cruiser (Macromia alleghaniensis) was netted by Mike Blust at Hardware River Wildlife Management Area, Fluvanna County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

Harpoon Clubtail dragonfly

09 JUN 2017 | Highland County, VA | Harpoon Clubtail (male)

A Harpoon Clubtail dragonfly (Phanogomphus descriptus) was spotted at “Straight Fork,” Highland County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male. Sincere thanks to fellow Virginians Karen Kearney and Mike Boatwright for guiding me to this unique high-elevation habitat.

It’s worth noting that I saw two more new species during the same trip: Riffle Snaketail (Ophiogomphus carolus); and Dot-tailed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta).

Those who know me well are familiar with one of many “Walterisms”: “I haven’t ‘seen’ something until I have photographed it.” My rationale is two-fold: 1) A photograph verifies a sighting. 2) The detail visible in a good photograph exceeds the acuity of the human eye. Suffice it to say I saw two other species but haven’t seen them. Makes sense to me!

Swift River Cruiser dragonfly

A Swift River Cruiser dragonfly (Macromia illinoiensis) was spotted at Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent/teneral female.

Spine-crowned Clubtail dragonfly

A Spine-crowned Clubtail dragonfly (Hylogomphus abbreviatus) spotted along Bull Run at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male. A female was spotted on the same day at a nearby location.

Epitheca cynosura exuvia

A Common Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca cynosura) exuvia was collected at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

Epitheca princeps exuvia

05 MAR 2017 | Prince Baskettail (Epitheca princeps) | exuvia (face-head)

A Prince Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca princeps) exuvia was collected from an unknown location. This specimen was on temporary loan from Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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