Posts Tagged ‘Paul Spring Park’

Old favorites, revisited

July 3, 2014

I have spent a lot of time photowalking at Paul Spring Park, one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Paul Spring is a small year-round stream that flows through Paul Spring Park; damselflies and dragonflies are common along the creek during summer.

This post features photos of a Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami), an old favorite spotted on 29 June 2014 during a photowalk at one of my favorite places. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

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All 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”). All three appendages are clearly shown in full-size version of the following photo.

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Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (female, oviposition, in flight)

November 14, 2012

A Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) spotted at Paul Spring Park. This individual is an adult female, shown in flight, laying eggs in the stream by the process of oviposition.

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Habitat: “Paul Spring Park,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Paul Spring is a small year-round stream that flows through Paul Spring Park.

Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (male) redux 4

November 11, 2012

A Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) perched on a branch of a small tree that fell in the Paul Spring stream bed. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and the “claspers” (terminal appendages) at the end of its abdomen.

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Habitat: “Paul Spring Park,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Paul Spring is a small year-round stream that flows through Paul Spring Park.

Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (male) redux 3

October 30, 2012

A Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) perched on a branch of a small tree that fell in the Paul Spring stream bed. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and the “claspers” (terminal appendages) at the end of its abdomen.

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Habitat: “Paul Spring Park,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Paul Spring is a small year-round stream that flows through Paul Spring Park.

Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (male) redux 2

October 10, 2012

A Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) perched on a branch of a small tree that fell in the Paul Spring stream bed. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration, the secondary genitalia located on the underside of abdominal segments 2-3, and the “claspers” (terminal appendages) at the end of its abdomen.

Remember that all dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back.

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Habitat: “Paul Spring Park,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Paul Spring is a small year-round stream that flows through Paul Spring Park.

Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (male) redux

September 9, 2012

The following photo shows a Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) perched on a branch of a small tree that had fallen in the Paul Spring stream bed. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and the “claspers” (terminal appendages) at the end of its abdomen.

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Look closely at the dragonfly’s compound eyes. Notice the darker colored areas called “pseudopupils.” According to Richard Orr, renowned expert on dragonflies and damselflies of the mid-Atlantic region, pseudopupils indicate areas of higher visual acuity.
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 Habitat: “Paul Spring Park,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Paul Spring is a small year-round stream that flows through Paul Spring Park.

Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (female)

December 25, 2011

The following “raw” video clip (unedited) shows a female Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) laying eggs by the process of oviposition. The female skims the water repeatedly, picking up drops of water that are used to flick fertilized eggs toward the shore. The process typically lasts a few seconds to a few minutes.

I spotted several Needham’s Slimmer dragonflies (both males and females) during a photowalk through “Paul Spring Park,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. See “Needham’s Skimmer dragonflies (males),” one of my Posterous posts. Male Needham’s Skimmer dragonflies exhibit primarily red coloration; females exhibit primarily yellow coloration.

Video © Copyright 2011 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Needham’s Skimmer dragonflies (males)

October 19, 2011
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I spotted several red dragonflies (males) during a photowalk through “Paul Spring Park,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. I wasn’t sure whether the dragonflies were Golden-winged Skimmers or Needham’s Skimmers. I consulted Richard Orr, renowned Odonata expert, for help in identifying the red dragons I saw. According to Richard, …

If you were on the [Atlantic] coastal plain the chances are that you were seeing Needham’s Skimmers and not Golden-winged [Skimmers]. However that does not work 100% of the time.

A range map for Needham’s Skimmers supports Richard’s speculation. “Needham’s Skimmer” (Libellula needhami) is named after James Needham, author of the out-of-print classic reference book, Dragonflies of North America (see Photo 6 of 6, shown above).

Habitat: Paul Spring, a small stream that flows through Paul Spring Park year-round.

Photos © Copyright 2011 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Violet Dancer damselflies "in tandem"

August 9, 2011
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A mating pair of Violet Dancer damselflies (Argia fumipennis violacea) spotted during a photowalk through “Paul Spring Park,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.  Formerly known as “Variable Dancer,” the Violet Dancer is classified as one of three subspecies of Variable Dancer damselflies.

Odonata, an order of insects including dragonflies and damselflies, reproduce in three stages: in tandem; in wheel (sometimes called “in heart” for damselflies); and oviposition. The damselflies shown in the preceding photo gallery are “in tandem,” in which the male uses claspers at the end of its abdomen to hold the female by its thorax. Therefore, the male damselfly is on the upper-right in the preceding photos; the female on the lower-left. See “Violet Dancer damselfly” (one of my recent Posterous posts) for more photos of a male Violet Dancer.

Photo 1 of 3 is a copy of the original photograph, cropped to highlight the damselflies; Photo 2 of 3 is the original photograph. Photo 1 was cropped and adjusted using AppleAperture.

Ebony Jewelwing damselfy (female)

August 7, 2011
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An Ebony Jewelwing damselfly (Calopteryx maculata) spotted during a photowalk through “Paul Spring Park,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills (CAHH), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The individual shown in the preceding photo gallery is a female, as indicated by its dull brown body and smoky wings with bright white spots near the wingtips. (Males have metallic green bodies and opaque black wings.)

The Ebony Jewelwing is one of eight species of broad-winged damselflies, a family of medium-size damselflies that have butterfly-like flight. Like all broad-winged damselflies, Ebony Jewelwing damselflies are usually found along small creeks and streams, near the water.

Related Resources:

Tech Tips: Photo 1 of 2 is a copy of the original photograph, cropped to highlight the damselfly; Photo 2 of 2 is the original photograph. Photo 1 was cropped and edge sharpened using Apple “Aperture,” a professional-grade tool for organizing and adjusting photos. Apple “Preview” was used to annotate Photo 1 to highlight the bright white spots near the damselfly’s wingtips.


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