Local dragonflies are finally starting to emerge in Northern Virginia and yesterday I was thrilled to capture some images of the appropriately named Springtime Darner (Basiaeschna janata) at Huntley Meadows Park, the marshland where I spend a lot of my time exploring and taking photos.
This is the first time that I have seen this beautiful species, which will be gone by mid-June, according to information on the Dragonflies of Northern Virgina website, a wonderful resource put together by Kevin Munroe, a dragonfly expert and the manager of Huntley Meadows Park. If you want more information specifically about the Springtime Darner, you can go directly to this page, but I think it’s fascinating to poke about in the different areas of the site.
This is also the first documented sighting of a Springtime Darner in the park and I am pretty excited to be partially responsible for a new addition to the park’s species list. Yesterday I was trekking through the muddy back areas of the park with fellow blogger and photographer Walter Sanford, who is much more knowledgeable about dragonflies than I am. He knew precisely what dragonflies we could hope to see and the specific type of habitat where we should expect to see them. After several hours in the hot sun, our persistence was rewarded when Walter spotted this Springtime Darner. Check out Walter’s blog posting called Teamwork, and some take-aways for his observations about yesterday’s discovery.
With more new dragonflies soon to come, it won’t be long before I’ll be walking around primarily with my macro lens on my camera. Fortunately, I was prescient enough yesterday to have switched midday from my 150-600mm telephoto zoom, which would have had trouble capturing the dragonfly because of its minimum focusing distance of 107 inches (2.7 meters), to my 180mm macro lens, which was more suited to the situation we encountered.
I did, however, have to rely on manual focusing to get this shot, which I find to be challenging with a digital camera, especially when shooting handheld. The Springtime Darner likes to perch low on vegetation, so I was on hands and knees, hoping not to spook this specimen, which was the only dragonfly that I managed to photograph yesterday.
I think it’s safe to say that dragonfly season is officially open and I am pretty confident that there will be new blog postings in upcoming months as my adventures with dragonflies continue.
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.