Posts Tagged ‘male’

Big Bluet damselfly (male)

September 25, 2020

A Big Bluet damselfly (Enallagma durum) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell along Deephole Point Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

This individual — one of hundreds, if not thousands we saw while hunting for a rare to uncommon species of dragonfly — is a male, as indicated by his blue and black coloration and terminal appendages.

15 SEP 2020 | OBNWR | Big Bluet (male)

Ideal habitat for Big Bluet is as follows.

Habitat Large sandy lakes and lower reaches of rivers, even extending into brackish estuaries. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 2156-2157). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Think large, tidal rivers and bays. I have observed E. durum at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, and Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

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

Sidebar: Scientific Classification of Damselflies

The following concise explanation of the scientific classification of damselflies is provided to help the reader understand where the genus Enallagma (American Bluets) fits into the bigger picture of the Order OdonataSuborder Zygoptera (Damselflies).

There are four families of damselflies in the United States of America, although only three families occur in the mid-Atlantic USA: Broad-winged damselflies; Narrow-winged damselflies (a.k.a., Pond Damselflies); and Spreadwing damselflies.

  1. Family Calopterygidae – Broad-winged Damselflies
  2. Family Coenagrionidae – Narrow-winged Damselflies
  3. Family Lestidae – Spreadwings

1. Family Calopterygidae is comprised of two genera.

2. Family Coenagrionidae is comprised of 14 genera. Three genera are common in Northern Virginia: Argia (Dancers); Enallagma (American Bluets); and Ischnura (Forktails).

3. Family Lestidae is comprised of two genera.

  • Archilestes (e.g., Great Spreadwing)
  • Lestes (e.g., Slender Spreadwing, Southern Spreadwing, Swamp Spreadwing)

There are relatively few genera of Broad-winged Damselflies and Spreadwing Damselflies. In contrast, there are many more genera and species of Narrow-winged Damselflies — more species, including many that look similar, makes this family the most challenging to learn!

Related Resource: “The Odonata of North America” is a complete list of both scientific names and common names for damselflies and dragonflies, maintained by the Dragonfly Society of the Americas.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue Dasher dragonfly (male)

September 14, 2020

Ubiquitous. Yep, that’s Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis).

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Blue Dasher (male)

A male Blue Dasher was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell around Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Stealthy spider stalks Swift Setwing

September 4, 2020

There I was, trying to create some Odonart©.

18 AUG 2020 | 12:02:18 PM | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

As I “worked the shot,” the imaginary soundtrack in my mind reminded me of the music bed at the beginning of Bambi Meets Godzilla. Peaceful. And just as suddenly as the animated film ends rudely, the idyllic scene before my eyes took a turn for the ugly!

Cue the Jaws Theme Song as the walk-on music for a Long-jawed Orb Weaver.

18 AUG 2020 | 12:03:10 PM | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

52 seconds of elapsed time could have been the difference between life and death for the dragonfly. As far as I know, the Swift Setwing survived this near-death experience.

The Backstory

Swift Setwing dragonfly (Dythemis velox) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell around Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages.

The first photo was taken when the dragonfly landed on a grass stem near the shoreline of the pond. Soon afterward his wings were “set” forward in the position from which the latter part of its common name is derived, as shown in the last photo. It is assumed by the author that the set wing position enables the dragonfly to take flight swiftly — a useful adaptation when being stalked by a stealthy spider!

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (male)

August 26, 2020

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) was spotted by Michael Powell during a photowalk around Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages.

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

I was able to shoot one and only one photo of the Russet-tipped Clubtail before it was spooked by a male Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) — the clubtail flew away (never to return) while the skimmer landed on a nearby perch.

Swift Setwing (Dythemis velox) and Russet-tipped Clubtail were our two target species for the trip to JMAWR. Seeing Swift Setwing was a relatively sure thing; Russet-tipped, less so. It would have been nice to get a longer look at this handsome clubtail, but hey, I’m happy to have seen/photo’d this somewhat uncommon species however briefly!

Related Resource: Odonart© [one of several Swift Setwing spotted on the same day at JMAWR]

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Odonart©

August 24, 2020

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

The Odonart© Exhibit is located in one wing of the ARThropod Gallery. (See what I did there?) My Odonart© Portfolio is featured in the exhibit.

The Backstory

A Swift Setwing dragonfly (Dythemis velox) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell around Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County. Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages.

The Dragonflies of Northern Virginia Calendar of Flight Periods by Kevin Munroe, former manager at Huntley Meadows Park, doesn’t include Swift Setwing because the species was unknown to occur in Northern Virginia before it was discovered on 24 June 2016 in Fairfax County by my good friend Michael Powell. Years later, we’re still gathering data for this relative newcomer to the region.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

I’m black in the saddle again.

August 19, 2020

Like the Singing Cowboy Gene Autry sang, I’m black in the saddle again. OK, maybe more like blue-black — either way I’m back baby!

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Slaty Skimmer (male)

The preceding photo shows a Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) that was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages.

This is the second photo I shot at the outset of the photowalk — the first photo was a little too dark because the external flash power ratio was a little too low. Most external flash units work with most cameras as long as the flash is set for Manual mode. Some trial and error is necessary to get the proper exposure. 1/16 power is a good starting point — that way the best power ratio is usually no more than two- to three stops away.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Spotlight on Slaty Skimmer

July 22, 2020

Michael Powell spotted a Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) during a photowalk with me along a mid-size stream in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a mature male, as indicated by his coloration, hamules, and terminal appendages.

15 JUL 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Slaty Skimmer (male)

After a long day of searching for Eastern Least Clubtails (Stylogomphus albistylus) unsuccessfully — an uncommon species of dragonfly — it was good to see any type of dragonfly, including a common species like Slaty Skimmer!

Slaty Skimmer is a habitat generalist that can be found almost anywhere there is water.

Post Update

You know, sometimes I look at a full-frame photo and think it would look better cropped slightly. This is one of those times. So I cropped the photo and think it looks much better than the full-frame version. What do you think?

15 JUL 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Slaty Skimmer (male)

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (male)

July 17, 2020

A Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (Argia tibialis) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell along a mid-size stream in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Blue-tipped Dancer is a member of Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies).

This individual is a male. I love the gun metal gray color of his upper thorax stripes.

15 JUL 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Blue-tipped Dancer (male)

Related Resource: A. tibialis male #4 (Blue-tipped Dancer)

Credit

Thanks to Michael Boatwright, founder and administrator of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, for help in identifying this specimen.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Sable Clubtail dragonfly (male, No. 2)

July 10, 2020

A Sable Clubtail dragonfly (Stenogomphurus rogersi) was spotted by Michael Powell during a photowalk at a location in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his “indented” hind wings, and terminal appendages.

Look at the blade of grass on which the Sable is perched. Notice the “leftovers” from an afternoon snack eaten by the dragonfly before the photo was taken.

13 JUN 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

Male dragonflies have three terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers,” that are used to grab and hold female dragonflies during mating: an upper pair of cerci (“superior appendages”); and a lower unpaired epiproct (“inferior appendage”). The epiproct for Sable Clubtail is essentially a wide plate with two prongs.

13 JUN 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

The spiky green grass shown below is probably shallow sedge (Carex lurida) according to Drew Chaney, a.k.a., “Plant Man Drew.”

13 JUN 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

Field Observations

All of the photos in the preceding gallery show male No. 2 perched on vegetation overhanging a small stream, enabling him to both hunt/feed and wait for an opportunity to mate with a female.

Natural History: Males perch on sunlit vegetation overhanging stream or on flat rocks in shade at head of riffle, fly up into trees when disturbed. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 6102-6103). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

In my experience, Sable Clubtails — both male and female — also perch on ground cover vegetation in sunny clearings near small streams. For example, see my recent blog post featuring male No. 1.

Sable does in fact fly up into trees when their “flight” response is triggered by overzealous photographers; they have been observed perched in trees as high as 20 feet above the ground. Be patient — usually they return to the ground soon afterward.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Gray Petaltail dragonfly (male, No. 3)

July 6, 2020

Several Gray Petaltail dragonflies (Tachopteryx thoreyi) were spotted during a recent photowalk with Michael Powell at a location in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This one is No. 3 of 4.

13 JUN 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Gray Petaltail (male)

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

13 JUN 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Gray Petaltail (male)

After shooting a “record shot,” I like to “work the shot,” that is shoot the subject from all viewpoints. In this case the range of possible shots was somewhat limited so after I felt like I’d taken all the shots I could, I challenged Mike to see how close he could get to the dragonfly.

13 JUN 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Gray Petaltail (male)

As you can see in the photo featured in The Backstory, it turns out Mike was able to get astoundingly close to this very cooperative Gray Petaltail!

The Backstory

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 is one of two superzoom bridge cameras that I use as my “go to” rigs for photowalking. The minimum focusing distance in AF Macro mode is 1 m (3.3 feet) at maximum telephoto (600 mm, 35mm equivalent). My usual practice is to set the camera lens for maximum telephoto and move as close as possible to the minimum focusing distance, resulting in maximum magnification of the subject. That’s how I shot the three photos shown above.

The following photo is shown for scale. The Gray Petaltail is perched on a fallen tree limb approximately six inches (6″) in front of Mike Powell’s 180mm macro lens. Shooting macro is one way to increase magnification; shooting at maximum telephoto is another. I prefer the flexibility afforded by a zoom lens versus a prime lens like Mike is using.

13 JUN 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Michael Powell

Related Resource: Gray Petaltail eyes, a companion blog post by Michael Powell.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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