Skip to main content

Two colorful damsels

While slogging through a wetland last Sunday, dragon(fly) hunting, I lucked into this scene. A male skimming bluet, Enallagma geminatum (left) sharing a perch with a male orange bluet, Enallagma signatum. Damselflies tend to be more low-key than their larger brethren, the dragonflies. I doubt you'd ever find, say, a widow skimmer and an eastern pondhawk resting in such close proximity. These two expressed a bit of tension occasionally, but for the most part coexisted quite nicely.

Each animal is scarcely more than an inch in length; truly elfin in stature. Nonetheless, damselflies are every bit the ferocious carnivores that the larger dragonflies are. Rather than utilizing the conspicuous aerial fighter-jet tactics of dragonflies on the hunt, damsels' hunting styles are more discreet. They tend to remain low in vegetation, slowly helicoptering through the plants and darting quickly and rather jerkily to pluck small insects from the foliage.

This photo was taken while kneeling in about two feet of water. To really get good opportunities at damsel/dragon photography, it is immensely helpful if the photographer is willing to wade in with his subjects. I shot the image with my Canon T3i with its 100 mm macro lens, and lighting was helped by a Canon 430 EX II Speedlite mounted on the camera's hotshoe. The aperture was set to F13, ISO at 400, which permitted a shutter speed of 1/200. Nonetheless, I made a stoopid mistake - I forgot to flick the image stabilization switch to ON, which would have noticeably improved this image and the other photos that I made, especially as I was handholding the camera.

Today's cameras are amazingly good, and incredibly complex. But, if you're an amateur like me, it's all too easy to make a dumb blunder and under-exploit the technology. No matter, though - I'd have enjoyed my time with these colorful damsels even if I took no pictures.


Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.

So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…