Posts Tagged ‘mature male’

More Bar-winged Skimmers (males)

July 23, 2021

At least two male Bar-winged Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula axilena) were spotted along the shoreline of a small pond at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA.

It’s possible all of the photos featured in this blog post are of the same mature male that is featured in another recent post, as indicated by a distinctive pattern of spider web strands on the wings of the dragonfly.

Look closely along the leading edge of the wings. Notice the dark bars from which the common name for this species is derived are almost invisible.

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County |  Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County |  Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County |  Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County |  Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

For what it’s worth, the first and last photos in this set are my favorite.

Related Resource: Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (male).

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (male)

July 9, 2021

A Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena) was spotted along the shoreline of a small pond at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA.

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

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County |  Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

This mature male has mated many times, as indicated by the scratches on the light-blue pruinescence covering his abdomen.

Males that have mated often have marks on their abdomen where the female legs have scratched them. This is especially obvious in species in which males develop pruinosity, as the pruinosity on the mid-abdomen is scratched off, and the signs are visible at some distance. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 390-392). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The next photo is full-frame (4,000 x 3,000 pixels), that is, uncropped.

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County |  Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

Look closely along the leading edge of this individual’s wings. Notice the dark bars from which the common name for this species is derived are almost invisible.

Habitat

According to Dr. Steve Roble’s excellent datasets for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the adult flight period for Bar-winged Skimmer is from May 08 to September 28. Dr. Roble describes its habitat as “ponds.”

“Ponds” is perhaps too simple a descriptor for the habitat preferred by Bar-winged Skimmer, otherwise L. axilena should be more common than a map of its range suggests. Dennis Paulson provides a little more specificity.

Habitat: Wooded slow streams and sloughs, forest pools. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Location 9152). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Kevin Munroe, former manager at Huntley Meadows Park, provides the best description of Bar-winged Skimmer habitat that I’ve seen.

One of our less common skimmers, this dragonfly has relatively specific habitat needs. It prefers very shallow marshy pools in the full sun. If there’s enough water for fish, it’s too deep for Bar-winged Skimmers. And of course shallow pools in the full sun tend to quickly evaporate and dry up, so stable populations in Northern Va. are few and far between. The similar Great Blue Skimmer also likes shallow water, but is much more common. One reason being that they can handle partly shady forest pools and forest swamps, both too dark for Bar-wings. Source Credit: Bar-winged Skimmer, by Kevin Munroe.

I have observed Bar-winged Skimmer dragonflies at two locations in Huntley Meadows Park that provided habitat similar to Kevin’s recipe. Bar-winged Skimmer is no longer found at either place.

I have seen Bar-winged Skimmer at Sundew Bog, located in the Central Tract at Patuxent Research Refuge.

The Central Tract of the refuge is closed to public visitation due to the sensitive nature of much of the scientific work. Source Credit: Patuxent Research Refuge brochure.

Range map

Not all species of Skimmers are as common as I tend to think. For example, the following map shows all official records for Libellula axilena in the United States of America. As you can see, Bar-winged Skimmer is a relatively uncommon species of odonate.

What are the take-aways?

Many species of dragonflies in the Family Libellulidae (Skimmers) are habitat generalists and relatively easy to find almost anywhere there is water. In contrast, I think it’s fair to say Bar-winged Skimmer is a habitat specialist that is challenging to find.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Spangled Skimmer (mature male)

June 15, 2021

A Spangled Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula cyanea) was spotted near a small pond at an undisclosed location in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a mature male, as indicated by his deep blue pruinescence and terminal appendages. Contrast the appearance of this mature male Spangled Skimmer with a teneral female spotted on 13 May 2021 at a location in Prince William County, Virginia USA.

05 JUN 2021 | Fairfax County, VA | Spangled Skimmer (mature male)

This guy seemed to be unusually skittish.

05 JUN 2021 | Fairfax County, VA | Spangled Skimmer (mature male)

I followed him to three different perches before he decided the photoshoot was finished and flew into a nearby tree.

05 JUN 2021 | Fairfax County, VA | Spangled Skimmer (mature male)

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail dragonflies

May 4, 2021

Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was observed near a small pond during a photowalk with Michael Powell at Occoquan Regional Park (ORP). This individual is a female, as indicated by her mostly brown coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages.

28 APR 2021 | ORP | Common Whitetail (female)

Contrast the appearance of the female (shown above) with an immature male (shown below) seen on the same day at the same location. Notice the wing spots and terminal appendages are quite different for female and male Common Whitetail dragonflies.

28 APR 2021ORP | Common Whitetail (immature male)

Later the same day, another Common Whitetail dragonfly was observed near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature male, as indicated by the white pruinescence covering his abdomen. “Common Whitetail,” the common name for Plathemis lydia, is derived from the coloration of mature males of this species.

28 APR 2021 | JMAWR | Common Whitetail (mature male)

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Tattered

September 16, 2020

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, tattered wings, and terminal appendages.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail dragonfly (mature male)

September 11, 2020

A Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) 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 mature male, as indicated by his coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages.

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Common Whitetail (mature male)

Common Whitetail” is one of a few common names for odonates that makes perfect sense, at least for males. This species is found commonly in lentic habitats. It’s one of the first species to emerge during spring and one of the last to disappear in fall.

Although Common Whitetail is easy to find, it can be challenging to photograph mature males without blowing out the highlights in their bright white abdomen.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (male, No. 2)

September 2, 2020

The following 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.

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Slaty Skimmer (male)

This mature male has mated many times, as indicated by the scratches on his abdomen.

Males that have mated often have marks on their abdomen where the female legs have scratched them. This is especially obvious in species in which males develop pruinosity, as the pruinosity on the mid-abdomen is scratched off, and the signs are visible at some distance. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 390-392). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Great Blue Skimmer (mature male)

August 28, 2020

A Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) 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 mature male, as indicated by his slightly tattered wings, blue coloration, and terminal appendages.

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Great Blue Skimmer (mature male)

This male has mated many times, as indicated by the scratches on his abdomen.

Males that have mated often have marks on their abdomen where the female legs have scratched them. This is especially obvious in species in which males develop pruinosity, as the pruinosity on the mid-abdomen is scratched off, and the signs are visible at some distance. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 390-392). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Tech Tips

The preceding photo is full-frame (4,000 x 3,000 pixels), that is, uncropped.

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 photo shown above.

It’s worth noting the minimum focusing distance is 2 m (6.6 feet) at maximum telephoto when the camera IS NOT set for AF Macro mode. If your goal is to get as close as possible to the subject in order to fill the photo frame, then AF Macro mode is the way to go.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (mature male)

August 28, 2019

A Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) was spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

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

16 AUG 2019 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Slaty Skimmer (mature male)

Habitat preference

Slaty Skimmer is a habitat generalist that can be found virtually anywhere there is water, such as a mid-size pond like Painted Turtle Pond.

This species is a true habitat generalist; only whitetails and pondhawks can be found in as many different habitat types. I’ve seen Slaties along river edges, sunny sections of woodland streams, ponds, lakes, swamps, old roads and flooded meadows. Dragonflies of summer, if you’re in any of these habitats June through September, you’re likely to come face to face with a Slaty Skimmer. Source Credit: Dragonflies of Northern Virginia, by Kevin Munroe.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Widow Skimmer dragonfly (mature male)

August 23, 2019

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) was spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

16 AUG 2019 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Widow Skimmer (mature male)

This individual is a mature male, as indicated by the white pruinescence on his thorax and abdomen, pattern of wing spots (contrast with female pattern of wing spots), and terminal appendages.

This male has mated many times, as indicated by the scratch marks on his abdomen.

Males that have mated often have marks on their abdomen where the female legs have scratched them. This is especially obvious in species in which males develop pruinosity, as the pruinosity on the mid-abdomen is scratched off, and the signs are visible at some distance. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 390-392). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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