Posts Tagged ‘Wickford Park’

The Blue Boy

August 6, 2017

Several Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula incesta) were spotted during a photowalk along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages and slaty blue coloration.

09 JUL 2017 | Wickford Park | Slaty Skimmer (male)

This guy was my constant companion while I was photographing a male Common Sanddragon perching on a small sandbar in the creek.

09 JUL 2017 | Wickford Park | Slaty Skimmer (male)

I nicknamed this dragonfly “The Blue Boy” because his rich blue-indigo color is reminiscent of an oil painting by Thomas Gainsborough.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Common Sanddragon (male)

July 23, 2017

A Common Sanddragon dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) was spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages and “indented” hind wings.

Some people imagine the yellow markings along the abdomen look like small burning candles.

All of the photographs in this set are uncropped. Knee-high rubber boots enabled me to photowalk some segments the stream, allowing me to get close to the subject.

This guy was a cooperative model; he allowed me to photograph him from many viewpoints.

The water level was relatively high after recent heavy rainfall. As a result, there were fewer sandy “beaches” than usual along the stream. I speculate the dragonfly may have been more cooperative because he wasn’t going to abandon one of only a few available preferred places to perch.

It’s possible the right front leg (facing forward) is either malformed or injured. Although the male flew several short patrols, landing in different places, the leg was never fully extended.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Sanddragon dragonfly (male)

March 29, 2017

As you might expect, Common Sanddragon dragonflies (Progomphus obscurus) commonly perch on the sandy banks of small woodland streams. Not this one!

A Common Sanddragon was spotted perching on the vegetation growing alongside a manmade concrete drainage ditch that flows into Dogue Creek, Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages. Like all male clubtail dragonflies, the hindwings of male Common Sanddragons are “indented” near the body. This distinctive field marker is shown well by the last photo in this gallery.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Top 10 Photos of 2016

December 30, 2016

The following gallery shows 33 finalists for my “Top 10 Photos of 2016.” The photos are presented in reverse-chronological order beginning in December 2016 and ending in May 2016.

The Top 10 photos will be selected 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. 5, 8, 14, 17, 21, etc. Thanks for sharing your selections, and thanks for following my photoblog!

No. 1

The following specimen was collected on 16 May 2016 (with permission from park staff) along the Potomac River at Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. (This studio photograph, taken on 25 December 2016, hasn’t been published in a post.)

No. 2

The next specimen was collected on 07 July 2016 along the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. (This studio photograph was taken on 02 December 2016.)

An Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) exuvia collected from the Potomac River, Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

07 JUL 2016 | Potomac River | Eastern Amberwing (exuvia, head-on)

No. 3

No. 4

A Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female heteromorph.

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Shadow Darner (female heteromorph)

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

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No. 24

No. 25

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No. 27

A mating pair of Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in heart."

24 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (mating pair, “in heart“)

No. 28

No. 29

No. 30

No. 31

No. 32

No. 33

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

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Life-list additions in 2016

December 28, 2016

2016 was the “Year of the Clubtail dragonfly.” Unofficially, that is. Or maybe it only seems like I saw a lot more clubtail dragonflies than in past years, including four new species for my life-list of odonates. Not that I actually maintain a list — it’s more like a memory file in my brain.

There were three other non-odonate “firsts” this year, one of which was a long time coming! My life-list additions in 2016 are presented in reverse-chronological order.

Shadow Darner dragonfly

Shadow Darner dragonfly (female), posted on 18 October 2016.

Although I’ve seen many male Shadow Darners, this is the first female I photographed.

A Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female heteromorph.

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Shadow Darner (female heteromorph)

Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly

Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (male), posted on 26 September 2016.

I spent a lot of time unsuccessfully looking for Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonflies at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge. Soon after I surrendered in defeat, a Russet-tipped Clubtail found me. Imagine my surprise and delight when I spotted one at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR). Whoa, didn’t see that one coming!

Clearwing Moths

Clearwing Moths (Genus Hemaris), published on 04 October 2016.

Dusky Dancer damselfly

Dusky Dancer damselflies (mating pair), published on 12 September 2016.

A mating pair of Dusky Dancer damselflies (Argia translata) spotted along Pope's Head Creek at Chapel Road Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in tandem."

29 AUG 2016 | Chapel Road Park | Dusky Dancer (mating pair)

Black-shouldered Spinyleg dragonfly

Black-shouldered Spinyleg (male), published on 11 August 2016.

Eastern Ringtail dragonfly

Eastern Ringtail dragonflies (males), published on 13 August 2016.

Powdered Dancer damselfly

Powdered Dancer (males, female), published on 23 August 2016.

A Powdered Dancer damselfly (Argia moesta) spotted along the Potomac River at Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

04 AUG 2016 | Riverbend Park | Powdered Dancer (male)

Swift Setwing dragonfly

Making new friends, published on 10 July 2016.

A Swift Setwing dragonfly (Dythemis velox) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

26 JUN 2016 | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

Dragonhunter dragonfly

Dragonhunter dragonfly (female), published on 24 June 2016.

This is the first female Dragonhunter I photographed.

A Dragonhunter dragonfly (Hagenius brevistylus) spotted at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

21 June 2016 | Dragonhunter dragonfly (female)

Calico Pennant dragonfly

Calico Pennant dragonflies (males), published on 20 June 2016.

A Calico Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis elisa) spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Calico Pennant (male)

Prince Baskettail dragonfly

Changing of the guard, published on 16 June 2016.

Although I’ve seen many Prince Baskettail dragonflies, this one is the first I photographed. Prince Baskettails are fliers, not perchers.

A Prince Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca princeps) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, shown in flight.

14 JUN 2016 | JMAWR | Prince Baskettail (male, in flight)

Slender Bluet damselfly

Slender Bluet damselflies (mating pair), published on 24 October 2016.

A mating pair of Slender Bluet damselflies (Enallagma traviatum) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in heart."

14 JUN 2016 | JMAWR | Slender Bluet (mating pair, “in heart”)

Common Sanddragon dragonfly

Common Sanddragon dragonfly (emergent male), published on 08 June 2016.

Although this was the second emergent dragonfly I saw during 2016, this was the first time I was able to observe the entire metamorphosis from beginning to end.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | WP/DC | Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly

Cobra Clubtail dragonfly

Cobra Clubtail claspers, published on 19 May 2016.

A Cobra Clubtail dragonfly (Gomphus vastus) spotted at Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

16 MAY 2016 | Riverbend Park | Cobra Clubtail (male)

Polyphemus Silkmoth

Polyphemus Silkmoth, published on 21 April 2016.

A Polyphemus Silkmoth (Antheraea polyphemus) was spotted along the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park.

Spring Peeper frog

Spring Peeper, published on 01 May 2016.

Although I’ve heard Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) every spring for many years, this is the first one I saw.

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

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

When things go wrong

November 30, 2016

One week after I witnessed the miraculous metamorphosis of an emergent male Common Sanddragon dragonfly (Progomphis obscuris), I was reminded that a lot can go wrong during emergence. Like the old blues standard says…

When things go wrong, go wrong with you
It hurts me too.

An emergent nymph was spotted during a photowalk along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park. The nymph was in the same position hours later, so I’m sad to say the dragonfly was stuck in its exuvia.

Related Resource: Common Sanddragon dragonfly (emergent male), a blog post by Walter Sanford featuring a time-series of photographs documenting the metamorphosis of an emergent male Common Sanddragon dragonfly on 01 June 2016 at Wickford Park.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Sanddragon dragonfly (male)

November 28, 2016

A Common Sanddragon dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) was spotted during a photowalk along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages.

Like all male clubtail dragonflies, the hindwings of male Common Sanddragons are “indented” near the body. This distinctive field marker is shown well by the first, fourth, and last photos in this gallery.

Half of the photographs in this set are full-frame, that is, uncropped. Like the next photo. Knee-high rubber boots enabled me to photowalk the stream channel, allowing me to get much closer to the subject. This guy is the second of at least five adult males I was able to photograph at close range during the outing.

Some people imagine the yellow markings along the abdomen look like small burning candles.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

A day at the beach

June 14, 2016

Two captions came to mind when I looked at the following photo.

  1. Hey Bob, let’s move to the beach. We won’t have to eat each other because of the free sand which is there. (There’s a joke in there somewhere!)
  2. If I don’t move, then maybe it won’t notice me/eat me.

Question is, which animal was in greater danger during this close encounter — the dragonfly or the spider? As I understand dragonfly feeding behavior, they catch prey by flying rather than crawling. So I’d say the dragonfly was in greater danger of being eaten by the spider than vice versa.

For those of you keeping score at home, neither the dragonfly nor the spider was harmed in the making of this photo. I don’t remember what caused the dragonfly to fly away, but it did so soon after this photo was taken.

Common Sanddragon dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) was spotted during a photowalk along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages. The spider appears to be some sort of fishing spider, but that’s an educated guess.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Sanddragon dragonfly (emergent male)

June 8, 2016

I was in the right place at the right time as I was photowalking Dogue Creek at Wickford Park on 01 June 2016: I noticed a dragonfly nymph as it crawled out of the water; the nymph stopped a few inches from the waterline and began to emerge right away. I photographed the entire process from beginning to end: I shot 77 photos in approximately 45 minutes; time is compressed by showcasing 14 select photos taken at major milestones during the event.

The following photo is the first image from a time-series documenting the miraculous metamorphosis of an emergent male Common Sanddragon dragonfly (Progomphis obscuris). Elapsed time is expressed in hh:mm:ss format, e.g., 00:44:21 (the total elapsed time).

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:07:51 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:00:00

The pre-emergent dragonfly nymph appears in the lower-left corner of the preceding photo; the cast skin from another dragonfly appears in the upper-right corner. Truth be told, I was so focused on observing the dragonfly nymph that I never noticed the cast skin until after I finished the photoshoot!

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:09:33 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:01:42

The dragonfly began to emerge through a split in the thorax, as shown in the next three photos.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:15:07 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:07:16

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:15:36 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:07:45

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:16:16 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:08:25

Within minutes, the emergent dragonfly was entirely free from its exoskeleton. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:21:01 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:13:10

The wings, folded like accordions, then begin to fill from the base with fluid transferred from the body and fairly soon reach full length. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 466-467). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:22:03 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:14:12

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:23:06 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:15:15

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:25:22 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:17:31

Soon, the folded wings were as long as the abdomen…but that didn’t last long.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:31:02 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:23:11

The fluid is then pumped back into the abdomen, and it expands. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 467-468). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Notice the wings are nearly clear in following photo, indicating the greenish-colored fluid that formerly filled the wings is almost gone. The abdomen is noticeably longer than the wings in this photo.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:34:48 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:26:57

Finally, the wings open up, and very soon the teneral adult flies away. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 468). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:36:42 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:28:51

The next-to-last photo shows the teneral dragonfly after waiting approximately 15 minutes for its wings to harden, just before first flight…

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:51:32 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:43:41

The last photo shows the cast skin from the emergent dragonfly, technically known as an exuvia (singular). The white filaments that extend from the split in the thorax are breathing tubes, artifacts of the unique respiratory system of dragonfly nymphs.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:52:12 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:44:21

Related Resources:

  • Metamorphosis of a dragonfly – a blog post by Mike Powell documenting an emergent Common Sanddragon dragonfly observed on 03 June 2016 at Huntley Meadows Park
  • Emerging Common Sanddragons – a blog post by Walter Sanford featuring two emergent Common Sanddragon dragonflies observed at Patuxent Research Refuge
  • Miraculous metamorphis – a blog post by Walter Sanford documenting an emergent female Common Whitetail dragonfly at Huntley Meadows Park

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Peopoll’s Choice Awards – Top 10 Photos of 2015

January 4, 2016

Ladies and gentlemen, the people have spoken. It’s time to announce the winners of the Peopoll’s Choice Awards for my Top 10 Photos of 2015. The Top 10 photos were selected using reader feedback. Sincere thanks for your participation!

Award-winning photos are presented in order of most-to-least votes. The first five photos tied for the most votes. I cast the tie-breaking vote for the final winner.

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Top Photos of 2015

Click on the date (hyperlinked) to see the original post on my photoblog.

  1. 23 SEP 2015 | HMP | Roseate Skimmer (male)
  2. 05 AUG 2015 | WP/DC | Common Sanddragon (male)
  3. 05 AUG 2015 | HMP | Common Green Darner (mating pair, in tandem) Editor’s Note: This photo received the most votes for overall best photo.
  4. 10 JUL 2015 | HMP | Halloween Pennant (female)
  5. 29 JUN 2015 | HMP | Halloween Pennant (female) Editor’s Note: This photo is my personal favorite.
  6. 11 OCT 2015 | HMP | Great Spreadwing (male)
  7. 17 JUN 2015 | HMP | Great Blue Skimmer (mature male)
  8. 14 MAY 2015 | HMP | Blue Flag Iris
  9. 28 APR 2015 | HMP | Common Green Darner (mating pair, in wheel)
  10. 05 JUL 2015 | HMP | European Hornet (female)

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

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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