The early Odes are finally emerging (or arriving) in southern Maine. This is somewhat worn (so migrant) male Painted Skimmer from Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area in West Kennebunk. I saw it over the pond first, with its wings flashing orange in the sun, and tracked it down to the shallow end of the pond to find its perch. I waited it out through several hunting sorties out over the pond but it came back to the same twig and I worked my way closer until I got this shot at 840mm equivalent (1.4x Smart Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
I went out for a photoprowl on my ebike to Emmon’s Preserve (Kennebunkport Conservation Trust), mainly to see if there were any River Jewelwings (damselflies) flying. I have seen River Jewelwings only once in my life, and that was in June at Emmon’s Preserve. Not yesterday. One of my goals for this summer is to photograph more dragonflies…and damselflies…odonata in general. My fascination with the form and function…the odd beauty of odonata, continues. Yesterday there was a medium sized dragonfly hunting in one of the little alcoves off the trail around the big meadow. These alcoves, sheltered from the wind on three sides, are often great spots for dragons. It looked, and acted, like a baskettail to me, in flight, and I waited ten minutes to see if it would perch (I have waited on baskettails before with no success.) This one, however, eventually did perch and I got a few shots. So of course I spent 30 minutes there waiting for it to perch again…and it did, twice more. I am never quite sure of my dragonfly ids…we have over 130 species recorded in York County Maine…and, even if a baskettail, there are quite a few baskettails it could have been. I am definitely a novice and I have no experience of iding dragons in the hand. This made an ideal trial for a new app I recently downloaded. Odes by Fieldguides.ai The Fieldguides series of apps (Everything, Odes, Leps, Birds, Plants, and Fungi) is a crowd sourced identification app. Folks submit photos and details, and when you submit a photo the ai engine attempts to identify whatever you submitted. I submitted my photo and the app suggested Beaverpond Baskettail. I was able to study several dozen other photos ided as Beaverpond, and concluded that the app was correct. A quick check with my DragonFly ID app pretty much confirmed it. I could still be wrong, but I have a fair degree of confidence that this is indeed a Beaverpond Baskettail (until someone who knows better tells me otherwise). Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
After seeing a few dragonflies in Florida when I visited Key West and the Dry Tortugas, and one dragonfly when in Ohio, I have been eagerly checking my local ponds for my first Maine dragon of the season. Earlier in the week I stopped by the Southern Maine Medical Center drainage ponds here in town, one of my most productive dragonfly spots over the years. Nothing happening. Yesterday, only a few days later, there were at least a dozen Common Green Darners hunting over the water and the adjacent parking lot. Green Darners are highly migrant and these are probably last year’s darners returning from a winter spent further south, and they were mostly males, but I caught at least one pair in the act of depositing eggs in the reeds at the edge of the pond. Things are looking up! Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
We are in New Mexico to visit our daughter and work the Festival of the Cranes, but yesterday was a travel day so today’s Pic still comes from Texas. The birding was somewhat slow at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge south of Alamo Texas when I visited last week, but there were lots of Butterflies and Dragonflies. This Blue Dasher posed nicely on its twig, giving me a good close up portrait of the face and wings.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program Mode. Processed in PhotoShop Express on my Android tablet.
Though there was not much water coming over Cascade Falls when I visited on Friday last, there were many Ebony Jewelwings over the stream below the falls. They seemed to like to perch in patches of sun on the rocks and broken branches in the stream. There is nothing so shinny as Ebony Jewelwing in the sun. It looks like it is forged in aluminum and anodized green. Even the wings have their metallic sheen.
Sony RX10iii at about 1100mm equivalent field of view. (Optical plus 2x Smart Digital Tel-converter). 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Lightroom.
There is a poem.
I got out to one of my dragonfly ponds
today, for a photoprowl. Mid-80s and
clear, but with enough breeze to make
it tolerable…pleasant actually…and lots
of dragons and damsels doing their thing
around the pond. Eastern Amberwings,
my first this year, not much bigger than
a bee, but holding their own among
dragons 4 times their size…flying low
to the water like orange sparks, resting
on floating clumps, clots of algae, males
and females playing tag across the pond.
I kept hoping one would land close in
to shore for a photo, but they held well
out, busy with Amberwing concerns,
and I had to settle for distant shots…
so little they are, they hardly show
in the frame, and wouldn’t at all if they
were any other color. Amberwings.
And that says all you need to know.
One of my favorite Dragonflies and one of the smallest. A skimmer. The males like this one have bright orange wings…the females have clear wings with orange/brown spots…the same color as the body. Like all skimmers, they take no guff from anyone…including the much larger Green Darners and Black-saddlebags that frequent the same ponds in our area…not to mention the Twelve-spotted and Widow Skimmers. You rarely see them more than a few inches above the water, so they only really share airspace with the Azure Bluets with abound at this time of year.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/320th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Cropped heavily for scale (about equivalent to 1200mm field of view) and processed in Lightroom.
Sometimes a Dragonfly is just too freshly emerged to id…which, at least at my level of experience, is the case here. I think it is one of the Meadowhawks, but it was on its maiden flight and I just can’t be sure which one, or even that it is a meadowhawk. It was very patient with me as I worked my way closer and fiddled with the Program Shift for this macro. I hope it woke up and moved on before the hunting Cedar Waxwings found it. 🙂
Sony RX10iii at 1200mm equivalent field of view (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program shift for greater depth of field. f9 @ 1/60th @ ISO 100. I could not really stop down any more, as there was some wind, and the position was awkward to hold the camera steady. Processed in Lightroom.
Here at the height of a unusually hot summer in Southern Maine, we have fewer dragonflies than I remember from last year. I went to Emmon’s Preserve in Kennebunkport yesterday in hopes of finding Mosaic Darners patrolling the meadows, but there were none at all. Lots of mosquitoes…probably, in part at least, because there were no dragons. The Mosaic Darners are among my favorite dragons. They big and generally boldly marked, and there is a certain elegance to their wasp wasted look and elaborate male appendages.
When I found little to photograph (and the sun very hot) in the open meadows at Emmon’s, I decided to drive the mile or so to Smith’s Preserve, where the trails are shaded by the forest. Parking is limited at Smith’s, and sometimes completely taken up by SUVs with bike racks, as the trails are very popular with mountain bikers. (SUVs with bike racks…that is a sad comment on our times.) I did find a place to park (the last one). It was quiet at Smith’s as well, though there was more bird song, and it was considerably cooler, and I did spot this Mosaic Darner patrolling a section of the trail. It hung up on a small pine along the side, and I was able to work my way close enough for a photo. I am thinking this is a Shadow Darner, but I could be wrong.
The light was not ideal in the deep shade, so this image is taken at ISO 1250. (1/250th @ f4 @ 541mm equivalent, zoomed back a bit to fit the full bug in). During processing in Lightroom, I ran it through the NIK Define 2 filter to eliminate some of the noise.
Until last year at this time, I had never seen a Halloween Pennant…and then I found one on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area near my home in southern Maine. After that first sighting I saw several in different spots around home. This year I have been on the look-out for them on each trip to Day Brook Pond. When I got to the pond on Saturday there were several dozen Pennants paired up and flying in tandem over the pond, ovapositing by dabbing the water sharply. I assumed they were Calico Pennants as they have been abundant around the pond so far this season, but then I found first a single male and then this mating pair of Halloween Pennants along the shore. That brought my assumption into question, so I had to try for a flight shot of the ovaposing pairs over the water. Not easy, but I eventually managed a shot that shows clearly that the mated pairs over the pond are indeed Calicos.
Both shots with the Sony RX10iii. Halloween Pennants at 1200mm (2x Clear Image zoom). Program shifted for greater depth of field. f8 @ 1/125 @ ISO 100. Processed and cropped slightly in Lightroom. Flight shot of the Calico Pennants using my custom Sports Mode. 300mm @ 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. Cropped heavily for scale.
I posed a pic of the Ebony Jewelwing in the shade a few weeks ago, showing the abdomen as a bright metallic blue…but when the bug lights or flies in the sun, it shows as bright green with just a hit of blue. When two males contest territory in and out of the spots of sun over a little rapid in a stream, gyrating around each other, it is one of the more spectacular sights in the world of Odonata.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/400th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Lightroom.