Dragonflies of the Rain forest

August 31st, 2014

On our way to the Galapagos Islands, we spent a few days at a lodge in the rain forest. We’ll have more about that in the next post, “real soon”.  This location, in a swamp, gave me a great chance to observe dragonflies. For me the most interesting species was an Amber wing. These are so small, less than 2 inches long, that at first I didn’t recognize them as dragonflies. Fortunately, they perched in a spot that made it possible to get a shot. I am a little disappointed that there were two species that I could not identify, but it was great to branch out and see some things that completely different from my norm.

A couple of the insects had visible parasites. Dragonfly larvae can have parasites that transfer to the just hatched adult after metamorphosis.  A red mite is visible in the head on image of the yellow Erythrodiplax andagoya.



Widow Skimmers Coast to Coast

December 29th, 2013

Some species of dragonflies live in a small range, while others can be found throughout the U.S. The Window Skimmer – Libellula luctuosa – can be found across much of the U.S. These two examples of females lived 3,000 miles apart.

California Widow Skimmer

Maine Widow Skimmer


Contra Loma Fun.

October 20th, 2013

Two trips to the reservoir this weekend. Most of my previous trips had been in the morning, so I don’t know if the activity differences I’m observing are seasonal or time of day. Saturday afternoon’s trip statred slow. There was a mini swarm of a dozen dragonflies feeding 8-15 feet up. I tried tracking them, with the camera set to fire as soon as something was in focus. It almost worked. If you think bird in flight are hard, try shooting something that can do an 4G turn. I ended up with nothing to show for the effort, but it was an interesting test. I ambled over to the back side of the lake, where the reeds are thick along the bank. A Black Saddlebag surprised me perching on a twig – I’d never seen one not in flight. He bugged out before I could react. Activity was light, with none of the dragonflies interested in hovering for a shot. I did have my first local sighting of a Flame Skimmer, which obliged me by taking a brief rest.

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Flame Skimmer – Male

With not much to show for the trip in the camera (but some nice observations), I headed back and happened upon this Variegated Meadowhawk. I’m just about at my limit of photos for these common perchers, but this one was 7 feet up, so the composition offered some variety.


Variegated Meadowhawk – Female

On Sunday morning, I returned just after sunrise. The only ones up and about were the (new for me) Blue-Eyed Darners. They generally keep a patrol flight pattern, but there was just enough hovering to catch a shot.



Blue-eyed Darner – Female


Blue-eyed Darner – Male

It seemed like every time I moved to a spot, the subjects all flew away. I’m going to pay attention to what I wear to see if that makes them less cautious. Long sleeved blue/green pull over today.

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Variegated Meadowhawks (Sympetrum corruptum)

September 28th, 2013

This dragonfly is unusual in a couple of ways.  First, it has a very non-uniform coloration (which made it tough to identify when I was just starting out.) Second, while it is found throughout much of the US, it also one of the few dragonflies that migrate. Not much is known about the migration patterns and research is on going.

This is a great example of the color differences common between male and female dragonflies.

Variegated Meadowhawk Sympetrum corruptum – Female – Antioch, CA

Variegated Meadowhawk Sympetrum corruptum – Male – Antioch, CA

Meadowhawks are perchers. That makes this shot possible.

Variegated Meadowhawk Sympetrum corruptum – Male – Antioch, CA



Dragonflies: A beginning

September 22nd, 2013

While we were rafting in the Grand Canyon (more on that later), I watched a dragonfly repeatedly fly around and return to the same perch. This dragonfly must have spent 15 minutes flying around and returning. When presented with such a persistent subject, you have to take a picture.  Thus began a new interest – photographing dragonflies.

Variegated Meadowhawk – Sympetrum corruptum

This experience turned out to be a bit of a lucky break. Some dragonflies are perchers  – they sit on a stick and wait for lunch to fly by. The Variegated Meadowhawk is one of these. Other dragonflies spend all day on the wing, constantly looking for food or a mate.  Dragonflies should present an interesting long term subject to photograph. There are more than 400 species in the US and Canada. Some are found over much of the US while others can only be found in areas covering less than 100 square miles. Males and females have different coloration, as do immature examples.

Since we returned from the Grand Canyon in July, I have made several trips to local wetlands to hunt for dragonflies and have begun to notice that they are everywhere, not just “down by the water”.



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