Posts Tagged ‘Swamp Darner dragonfly’

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

April 27, 2016

The cavalcade of spring species of odonates continues: a first-of-season Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros) was spotted on 25 April 2016 near a vernal pool at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park.

A Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, laying eggs (oviposition) in soft wood.

This individual is a female, laying eggs (oviposition) in soft wood. All female damselflies and many female dragonflies, especially Aeschnidae, have an ovipositor that is used to puncture aquatic plants, logs, wet mud, etc.; eggs are placed singly in the puncture. The ovipositor is clearly visible in the following annotated image.

A Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, laying eggs (oviposition) in soft wood.

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

Related Resource: Swamp Darner Ovipositing in Rotting Log (NJ, USA), an excellent YouTube video (2:03) published on June 5, 2014, shot from the edge of a vernal pool located in New Jersey.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Recognition received in 2015

December 25, 2015

It’s the time of year for reflection upon the past year. This is part one in a three-part series: part two will highlight New discoveries in 2015; part three will showcase my Top 10 Photos of 2015.

Several of my photographs received special recognition during 2015.

  • Chesapeake Explorer – National Park Service Web portal for exploring the Chesapeake Bay region
  • Vernal Pools are Wet and Dry – signage facilitating informal science education at a new park in the Town of DeWitt, New York
  • Argia, Vol. 27, Issue 4, “Parting Shots,” p. 31

The December 2015 issue of Argia, The News Journal of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas, features one of my photographs of a Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) that I discovered on 23 September 2015 at Huntley Meadows Park. Roseate Skimmer is extremely uncommon in Virginia: there are only three other confirmed records of this species in the state. See Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (male) for more information and photos of this handsome dragonfly.

Tech Tip: Apple “Preview” was used to extract one page from the December 2015 issue of “Argia.”

Sidebar:Argia” is a genus of damselfly, commonly known as “dancers.” For example, Variable/Violet Dancer (Argia fumipennis) is commonly found along streams in Northern Virginia.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Vernal Pools are Wet and Dry

August 7, 2015

It’s an honor to announce one of my dragonfly photographs is featured on signage for a man-made vernal pool at Butternut Creek Recreation and Nature Area, a new park in the Town of DeWitt, New York.

The info-graphic, entitled “Vernals Pools are Wet and Dry,” was written by Christine Manchester, Naturalist and Sustainability Coordinator, and illustrated by Kate Woodle.

Vernal-pool-signage_s_0389

05 JUN 2015 | Photo used with permission from Kate Woodle.

The preceding photograph shows the sign located in situ on the day the park opened; the final version of the illustration for the sign is shown below.

Vernal-Pool-Final

Graphic used with permission from the Town of DeWitt.

One of my photos of a Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros), taken during a photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP) on 02 June 2014, is featured on the sign. The dragonfly is a female, shown laying eggs (oviposition) in mud alongside a vernal pool.

The original photograph is shown below. Did you notice the version on the sign is the mirror image of my photo? I guess you call that “artistic license.”

Related Resource: An annotated version of the same photo illustrates some of the reproductive anatomy for female Swamp Darners.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female)

May 17, 2015

Dragonflies are classified as either “fliers” or “perchers,” based upon their feeding habits. Swamp Darner dragonflies (Epiaeschna heros) are fliers; it is uncommon to see them perching.

A Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

15 MAY 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Swamp Darner (female)

This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages. She was perching near a vernal pool, probably resting after egg-laying (oviposition).

A Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

15 MAY 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Swamp Darner (female)

Please look at the full-size version of both photos in order to see the exquisite coloration of this dragonfly.

Related Resources: Digital Dragonflies, presenting high-resolution digital scans of living dragonflies.

  • Genus Epiaeschna | Epiaeschna heros | Swamp Darner | female | top view
  • Genus Epiaeschna | Epiaeschna heros | Swamp Darner | female | side view
  • Genus Epiaeschna | Epiaeschna heros | Swamp Darner | male | top view
  • Genus Epiaeschna | Epiaeschna heros | Swamp Darner | male | side view

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Photo tip: Move closer to the subject.

April 9, 2015

A simple tip for shooting better wildlife photographs: Move closer to the subject. In this case, so close that the entire subject did not fit within the photo frame — better to show the extraordinary beauty of this species of dragonfly!

The following photos show two adult female Swamp Darner dragonflies (Epiaeschna heros) laying eggs (ovipostion) in a muddy drainage ditch located near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP).

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

02 JUN 2014 | HMP | Swamp Darner (female)

The next photo is my favorite in this set. Wow, look at those eyes!

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

25 MAY 2014 | HMP | Swamp Darner (female)

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

25 MAY 2014 | HMP | Swamp Darner (female)

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

25 MAY 2014 | HMP | Swamp Darner (female)

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

25 MAY 2014 | HMP | Swamp Darner (female)

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

March 26, 2015

The following annotated photograph illustrates some of the external reproductive anatomy of an adult female Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros), shown laying eggs (ovipostion) in mud: a pair of cerci (superior appendages) that have little or no function; a stylus (pl. styli), one of two structures that serve as sensors in egg positioning; and an ovipositor that is used to insert eggs into wet dead wood, mud, etc.

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

The preceding photograph was taken on 02 June 2014 in a drainage ditch located near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park. The photograph was voted one of my Top 10 Photos of 2014 in the first annual Peopoll’s Choice Awards.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Benjamin A. Coulter, member of the Northeast Odonata Facegroup, for kindly identifying the stylus (pl. styli) located between the cerci and ovipositor.

Related Resources: Digital Dragonflies, presenting high-resolution digital scans of living dragonflies.

  • Genus Epiaeschna | Epiaeschna heros | Swamp Darner | female | top view
  • Genus Epiaeschna | Epiaeschna heros | Swamp Darner | female | side view

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

January 23, 2015

The following photos show a Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros) spotted on 23 May 2014 near a vernal pool in a relatively remote location in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a female, shown laying eggs (oviposition) in a muddy drainage ditch.

All female damselflies and many female dragonflies, especially Aeschnidae, have an ovipositor that is used to puncture aquatic plants, logs, wet mud, etc.; eggs are placed singly in the puncture. The ovipositor is clearly visible in all of the following photos.

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

Related Resources: Digital Dragonflies, presenting high-resolution digital scans of living dragonflies.

  • Genus Epiaeschna | Epiaeschna heros | Swamp Darner | female | top view
  • Genus Epiaeschna | Epiaeschna heros | Swamp Darner | female | side view

See also Swamp Darner Ovipositing in Rotting Log (NJ, USA), an excellent YouTube video published on June 5, 2014, shot from the edge of a vernal pool located in New Jersey.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Top 10 Photos of 2014

January 1, 2015

The following gallery shows 25 finalists for my “Top 10 Photos of 2014.” The photos are presented in reverse-chronological order beginning in October 2014 and ending in April 2014.

This year I decided to select the Top 10 photos using reader feedback. Please enter a comment at the end of this post listing the number for each of your 10 favorite photos. If listing 10 photos is asking too much, then please list at least five photos, e.g., No. 2, 5, 11, 20, 21, etc. Thanks for sharing your selections, and thanks for following my photoblog!

Editor’s Note: The “Discussion Settings” for this blog were edited to remove most of the “filters” that are intended to prevent SPAM comments. This should make it much easier for regular readers to share their list of favorite photos.

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

No. 4

No. 5

No. 6

No. 7

No. 8

No. 9

No. 10

No. 11

No. 12

No. 13

No. 14

No. 15

No. 16

No. 17

No. 18

No. 19

No. 20

No. 21

No. 22

No. 23

No. 24

No. 25

Common Ribbonsnakes (mating pair)

02 APR 2014 | HMP | Common Ribbonsnakes (mating pair)

Editor’s Note: The following location codes are used in the photo captions, shown above.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Year in review: New finds in 2014 (odonates)

November 20, 2014

In addition to several “New discoveries in 2014,” I spotted several species of odonates in 2014 that were new finds for my “life list,” as well as a few first-time sightings of either a male or female for familiar species of dragonflies.

Ashy Clubtail dragonfly (male)

This is my first confirmed spotting of an Ashy Clubtail dragonfly (Gomphus lividus).

Ashy- or Lancet Clubtail

02 May 2014 | Meadowood Recreation Area

Common Baskettail dragonfly (male)

This is my first confirmed spotting of a male Common Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca cynosura). I have seen a few females in the past.

Common Baskettail dragonfly (male)

02 May 2014 | Meadowood Recreation Area

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (young male)

This is my first spotting of a Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena).

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (young adult male)

31 May 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Painted Skimmer dragonflies (male, female)

Although I had seen one Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) in the past, these individuals are among the first ones I photographed.

Painted Skimmer dragonfly (male)

Male | 06 June 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Painted Skimmer dragonfly (female)

Female | 23 May 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

I have seen lots of Swamp Darner dragonflies (Epiaeschna heros) in the past, but it’s challenging to identify their gender on the wing. I photographed one perching male on 04 June 2012. The following individual is one of the first confirmed females that I have spotted.

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

02 June 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Spot-winged Glider dragonfly (female)

This is the first confirmed female Spot-winged Glider dragonfly (Pantala hymenaea) that I have spotted.

Spot-winged Glider dragonfly (Pantala hymenaea)

15 July 2014 | Beacon of Groveton

Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

This mating pair of Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) is one of the first times I was quick enough to photograph a pair “in wheel.” This image is also among the first photographs taken using my Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera, 55-200mm zoom lens (88-320mm, 35mm equivalent), and Fujifilm Shoe Mount Flash EF-42 in TTL mode.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

20 August 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Slender Spreadwing damselfly (male)

I have seen many female Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) in the past, but this is the first male I spotted.

Slender Spreadwing damselfly (male)

28 September 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Shadow Darner dragonfly (male)

Although I have spotted Shadow Darner dragonflies (Aeshna umbrosa) in the past, this is one of the first individuals I photographed.

Shadow Darner dragonfly (male)

24 October 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Related Resources:

Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 in a three-part series — a retrospective look at 2014.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Another new species of spreadwing damselfly…

November 14, 2014

During late-May 2014, Mike Powell and I were photographing female Swamp Darner dragonflies (Epiaeschna heros) laying eggs (oviposition) in a drainage ditch near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. I noticed a damselfly and thought, “It’s just a damselfly; the Swamp Darner is more interesting.” The damselfly was perching closer to Mike, so I waited to take a few photos after Mike finished “working the shot.”

When I revisited the photos months later, I realized the damselfly was a species I’d never seen. Turns out it’s another new species of spreadwing damselfly for Huntley Meadows Park!

Ed Lam, author and illustrator of Damselflies of the Northeast, identified the specimen as either a Southern Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes australis) or Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes forcipatus). According to Ed, this individual “… is a male. Male Southern and Sweetflag cannot be separated in the field.”

Talk about a missed opportunity. Months later it was too late to catch-and-release one or more of these damselflies in order to examine the specimens in-hand, under magnification. At this point, we have to wait until next year to confirm the specific identity of our discovery. It’s going to be another long winter!

Southern/Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly (male)

23 May 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Southern/Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly (male)

23 May 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

So what’s the take-away from my experience? Don’t be dismissive. Look closely at every subject before you decide it is/isn’t photo-worthy — you never know what you may find!

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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