One of the earliest dragonflies to appear in our area is the Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) and it is also one of the last to be seen in the fall. During the summer months, these dragonflies can be seen flying all around the ponds at my local marshland. I spotted this one last Friday in a wooded area and initially had trouble seeing it as it flew made a series of short, hopping flights among the fallen leaves on the floor of the woods. As is usually the case, I tried to get as close as I could for the first shot below, but decided to also include a shot that gives you a better idea of the surroundings in which I found this little dragonfly.

Later in the seasons, the Common Whitetail will in fact be common, but this early in the spring, I am pleased with my uncommon find.

Common Whitetail dragonflyCommon Whitetail dragonfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Tiny pink and white wildflowers carpeting the forest floor at this time of the year—how appropriate it is that they are actually called Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica).

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Spring Shield Bug

As we move deeper into spring, I am increasingly walking around with my macro lens on my camera and I view anything that moves (and some that don’t) as a potential subject. I recently captured some images of a shield bug that I spotted on a rotten bug. Most often people refer to these insects as “stink bugs,” but I figured I’d attract more readers with the word “shield” than with the word “stink.” There are a lot of different kinds of shield/stink bugs and I have not been able to identify the species of my little bug.

The bug was quite active and I remembered again how difficult it is to stop action when using a macro lens at close range. I am pretty happy with the shots I was able to get. The first one gives a good view of the shield shape and shows how well camouflaged this species is for the environment. The second images shows some of the details of the back and I can’t help but love the simple, smooth background. The final image shows the bug resting for a moment, having successfully made it to the top of an obstacle.

After a winter with few macro subjects to photograph, I am relearning a few techniques and rekindling my excitement for insects and other macro subjects. I’m pretty confident that you’ll be seeing a lot of macro shots in the upcoming weeks and months.

stink bugstink bug

stink bug

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Woodland wildflower

What is the best way to capture the beauty of the fragile wildflowers that carpet the forest floors at this time of the year? Should I try to photograph a single flower? Should I move in even closer and focus on only part of the flower (or crop away part of the flower)? Should the images be realistic or abstract?

These were some of the thoughts that went through my head as I took these shots of what I think is a kind of wild violet. As some of you can readily tell, I was in another one of my “artsy” moods. In case you didn’t notice, the first and last shots are actually variations of the same image that I cropped differently. I just couldn’t decide which one I liked better, so I included them both.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Luck versus skill

Sometimes accidents are good. I certainly didn’t expect this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) to move when I pressed my camera’s shutter release, but I managed to catch the bird in a much more interesting pose than the one I was originally trying to capture.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

The forest floor is carpeted with tiny wildflowers at this time of the year and even this large black snake seemed to be taking time to appreciate their beauty.

The little flowers are Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica) and I think the snake may be a Northern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor constrictor), though I must confess that I grow a bit confused when reading the descriptions about how to distinguish Black Racers from Eastern Ratsnakes.

Unlike an earlier shot this spring of another black snake, which I photographed with my telephoto zoom lens, I took this shot with my 180mm macro lens, getting as low as I could and as close as I dared.

Northern Black Racer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


Mike Powell:

Fellow blogger and photographer, Walter Sanford, has an infectious passion for dragonflies and damselflies and has encouraged and inspired me to search for them in remote areas of my favorite marshland park. In today’s blog posting, he chronicles the new species that he has discovered and photographed in the park during the past two years. Individually and sometimes together, we are seeking to discover even more new species.

I encourage all of you to check out his blog to learn more about odonates and see some amazing images of these little beauties.

Originally posted on walter sanford's photoblog:

My interest in odonates, that is, dragonflies and damselflies, began during Summer 2011 at Huntley Meadows Park. Toward the end of Summer 2012 and continuing in 2013, my goal was to explore new venues for hunting odonates. Along the way, I spotted several species of odonates that are either uncommon or unknown to occur at Huntley Meadows, including Blue Corporal dragonfly, Stream Cruiser dragonfly, and Rambur’s Forktail damselfly, to name a few.

During 2014, continuing in 2015, I have been a man on a mission to explore the relatively unexplored areas at Huntley Meadows Park in search of habitat-specific odonates unlikely to be found in the central wetland area of the park. In retrospect, 2014-2015 has been a good run: five new species of odonates were discovered and added to the list of Dragonflies and Damselflies of Huntley Meadows Park.

Common Sanddragon dragonfly

Common Sanddragon dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) 20 June 2014

Mike Powell

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