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Archive for June, 2017

Last weekend when I was staying outside of Roanoke for a wedding, I had the chance to walk a few miles of the Appalachian Trail. It was pretty awesome—now I have only about 2178 more miles to go to complete it.

Like most people, I had heard about the Appalachian Trail, but didn’t know much about it. Somehow I imagined that it was about as wide as a jeep and relatively smooth. My brief hike on the trail dispelled those notions. The trail is narrow, muddy, and steep, at least in those parts where I was walking.

I encountered the trail in Troutville, Virginia, a small town that is designated as an Appalachian Trail Community, where hikers can resupply along the way. Troutville marks a point on the trail where thru-hikers, those trying to complete the entire trail in a single year, will have completed about a third of the trail, assuming they started in Georgia.

It’s pretty exciting to think about hiking a 2200 mile trail, but it requires a lot of planning, training, and commitment. Generally thru-hikers spent five to seven months hiking on the trail, and quite a few people drop out along the way for many different reasons.

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

As I climbed a hill and came to a meadow, I noticed this small tent. Apparently a hiker decided this was a good spot to spend the night. You can see part of the trail, which is marked with white “blazes,” like the one on the wooden post.

Appalachian Trail
This was the scenic view from the top of one of several hills that I climbed during my short stint on the trail.
Appalachian Trail
 © Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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There is something really special about green eyes, especially when you see them up close, really close. Every dragonfly season I try to find at least one cooperative dragonfly that sees eye-to-eye with me and lets me get a shot like this. I photographed this female Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) earlier this month at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

Eastern Pondhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Dragonflies seem to love to perch on this piece of rusted rebar that sticks out of the water at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. I really like the juxtaposition of the man-made and natural elements in this shot of a male Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) that I spotted on Monday.

You can’t see it really well in the first shot, but there is a spider on the rebar in addition to the dragonfly.  I got a better shot of the spider later in the day. I don’t know for sure that it could capture the dragonfly, but it’s a potentially dangerous situation for the dragonfly (and I have photographed several dragonflies that had fallen prey to spiders in the past).

Eastern Amberwing


spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday morning at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge at Fort Belvoir, Virginia I spotted my first Swift Setwing dragonfly (Dythemis velox) of the season. Last year. I believe, was the first time one was spotted in Fairfax County, where I live, and it looks like they are here to stay.

I spotted this dragonfly from pretty far away and recognized the shape and perching style. I took a few shots and moved a little closer and took a few more shots. I was hoping to get even closer, but the dragonfly apparently sensed my presence and flew away. As it turned out, that was the only Swift Setwing that I saw all day. I am pretty confident, though, that I will have some more opportunities to photograph this beautiful little dragonfly in the upcoming weeks and, hopefully, months.

Swift Setwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s a fun challenge to try to capture an image of a dragonfly in flight and I spent a lot of quality time this morning with a Prince Baskettail (Epitheca princeps) at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. Generally he flew patrols in the center of the pond, out of range of my lens (a 180mm macro), but occasionally he would fly tantalizingly close and give me a split second to react.

Most of the time I was unable to track him and focus quickly enough, but eventually I did manage get a few relatively sharp photos. This one is my favorite.

Prince Baskettail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Whenever I walk along the edge of a pond, I always like to look for damselflies, which love to perch on the vegetation growing out of the water. Footing can be a bit problematic and more than once I have slid down a slippery bank into the water. Normally, though, I just lean out as far as I dare to get some shots.

Last weekend as I was exploring Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, I spotted this beautiful little damselfly that was looking in my direction. I knew that depth of field would be a problem from that position, but did my best to focus on the damselfly’s beautiful eyes. When I returned home and began to review my shots, I was a little shocked to see what looked to be the discarded exoskeleton (exuvia) of another damselfly (or possibly a dragonfly) on the underside of the leaf on which “my” damselfly had perched. How did I not notice that when I was shooting?

I really like the way that the head of the exoskeleton is facing that of the damselfly and the shadow in between the two of them. Is it the shadow of the one looking down or the one looking up? Common sense says that it is the former, but the slight degree of ambiguity adds interest to the photo for me.


damselfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was exploring Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge last weekend, I spotted some Eastern Amberwing dragonflies (Perithemis tenera) flying low above the surface of the pond. One of them, a female, kept returning to a particular spot and would dip down and touch the water to deposit eggs. A male would periodically make an appearance and I couldn’t tell for sure if he was guarding the female or was trying to put the moves on her.

This is my favorite shot of the encounter. The dragonfly on the left is a male Eastern Amberwing and the one coming in from the right is a female. I thought about cropping the image in closer, but decided to keep it like this in order to retain the ripples and the reflection, elements that I really like.

 

Eastern Amberwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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