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Posts Tagged ‘Springfield VA’

Although I was still here in Northern Virginia, the colors and desolate character of the landscape surrounding this Variable Dancer damselfly (Argia fumipennis violacea) reminded me of the desert Southwestern portion of the United States. It looked almost like the damselfly was posing for a photo while perched at the edge of the Grand Canyon.

The reality was a little less exciting. I spotted this Variable Dancer during the 4th of July weekend while I was exploring Pohick Creek in Springfield, Virginia, only a few miles from where I live.

Variable Dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I didn’t really intend to photograph birds this weekend and had my macro lens on my camera. As I was walking around Hidden Pond Nature Centerhowever, I came face to face with a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) and actually had to back up a little to take this shot.

My macro lens is a 180mm Tamron and can serve pretty well as a telephoto lens in certain circumstances, though normally when I am planning to photograph birds I will use a longer lens. Sometimes you just have to shoot a subject with the lens on your camera at that moment. I had a zoom lens in my camera bag, but suspect that the heron would have flown away before I would have been able to switch lenses.

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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There is a whole family of damselflies called bluets that all look similar and the pattern of the males is generally some combination of black and blue (though there is one family member called an Orange Blue, which sure sounds like an oxymoron to me). On Saturday as I was exploring Pohick Creek in Springfield, Virginia, I came across two damselflies in tandem position that looked to be bluets. I suspect that they had just mated and were getting ready to deposit the eggs.

I managed to get a decent angle for a shot that allowed most of their bodies to be in focus and figured that identification would be simple. I was wrong. I went back and forth over a series of images and drawings in two guidebooks before deciding that they were probably Stream Bluets (Enallagma exsulans). The habitat was right and the markings seemed to be almost right, but I waffled for a long time.

Am I correct in my identification? I’m still not really confident, but so far one person has agreed with me in a Facebook group in which I posted the photo. The creative side of me, though, is really happy with the image, irrespective of the correctness of my identification.

Stream Bluet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) seemed to covet a prime perching position yesterday at Hidden Pond Nature Center in Springfield, Virginia and took action to try to dislodge the Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) that was occupying the perch.

The Blue Dasher was successful and occupied the top position for a little while, but eventually the larger Slaty Skimmer resumed the position at the top and the Blue Dasher was relegated to a lower spot on the plant.

Coming in for the attack

Coming in for the attack

The attack

The attack

Temporarily on top

Temporarily on top

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Relegated to the bottom

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Do you want to learn patience? If so, try photographing dragonflies in flight, those speedy little flyers that patrol the edge of a pond without ever seeming to need a rest.

Several readers commented that I must have lots of patience after they saw the photos of dragonflies and damselflies that I recently posted. Comparatively speaking, however, it is a whole lot easier to photograph these insects when they are perched on a stationary object than when they are in constant motion.

My fellow blogger and photographer, Walter Sanford, a true dragonfly stalker, emphasized to me recently that many of the early spring dragonflies are found only in limited locations for very short periods of time. (Check out his blog for lots of wonderful shots of dragonflies and other wildlife creatures.) I decided to return to Hidden Pond Nature Center, a county-run park in Springfield, Virginia that is only a few miles from where I live. Last year I spotted a few common dragonflies there, and it seemed to be a good place to broaden my search for spring dragonflies.

Sure enough, I caught sight of a few dragonflies, flying low over the surface of the small pond. They seemed to have fairly well defined patrol areas and tended to move about in large, lazy circles. I tried tracking several of them using my camera’s autofocus, but that proved to be impossible, so I switched to manual focusing, which was merely difficult.

I took a few breaks to get some shots of the more cooperative damselflies, but persisted in my quixotic efforts to capture the dragonflies in flight. Over the course of a couple of hours, I managed to fewer than a dozen images that are more or less in focus. I think that my subjects for this shoot might be Common Baskettail dragonflies (Epitheca cynosura), but I’m not very confident in that identification.

My adventures with dragonflies (and wildlife photography in general) continue teach important lessons about the value of patience and persistence.

 

 

flying5_blog

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I just can’t get enough of the Blue Dasher dragonfly. Here’s a shot I like of a male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) on an unidentified green plant that I took at Hidden Pond Nature Center here in Springfield, VA. Often I will try to go for maximum possible sharpness and realism, but I like the composition of this image and it has a kind of an “artsy” look that appeals to me.

plant_dragonfly_edited-1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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My normal instinct is to move in really close to my subject, whether it is physical movement with my macro lens or virtual movement with my telephoto zoom, but when I saw this dragonfly, I consciously pulled back in order to bring more of the stalk of the lily into the image.

This is a new species of dragonfly for me and I think it is probably a Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta). I love the contrast between the dark blue color of the dragonfly’s body and the orange shade of the lily.  This dragonfly’s muted colors give it a somewhat more sophisticated look that the more garishly colored Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) that I also photographed that day. (Check out my previous posting to see the contrast between the images of the two dragonflies in similar positions.)

In addition to the colors, I like the composition of the image and the water in the background blurred out pretty nicely too. In the next few weeks, I’ll be off trying to catch some shots of dragonflies on lotus flowers and waterlilies—it’s that time of the year again.

slaty_orange1a_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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