Archive for June, 2014

It’s unusual for me to take a photograph of a dragonfly with my camera pointed upward, but this Bar-winged Skimmer (Libellula axilena) kept perching in the branches of a downed tree limb, enabling me to include a little patch of sky in some of the shots. This is a new species for me that was pointed out to me by fellow photographer Walter Sanford when we ran into each other at one of our favorite spots at our local marshland park. The second shot shows part of the wing pattern that is responsible for the common name of this species, “Bar-winged.”


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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It’s tough to photograph a dragonfly in flight, but when it chooses to hover, there is a slightly better chance of getting a shot. That was the case recently when I encountered this female Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) that was in the process of depositing her eggs in the water. As her mate circled overhead, the female dragonfly would hover over the water and then periodically dip the tip of her tail in the water before returning to the hovering position. I was able to get several images of the hovering dragonfly, but got only a single image of her depositing the eggs.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Looking at my recent postings, you might come to the conclusion that I neglect damselflies, the smaller, less colorful members of the Odonata family, in favor of dragonflies. Actually, I really like damselflies, but they are so small that it is difficult to see them most of the time and quite a challenge to get a clear shot of one.

As I was searching for dragonflies, I came upon this beautiful black and blue damselfly perched on a small branch near the edge of a muddy creek and was able to get an unobstructed shot. You might think that identification would be easy, but there is a whole group of damselflies, the bluets, whose members have various combinations of black and blue.

So far, I haven’t been able to identify this damselfly, but I find its combination of black and turquoise to be elegant and really attractive.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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Walking along the sidewalk outside my hotel in Denver, Colorado, I caught sight of a beautiful shade of yellow on the breast of a bird that flew by me. I watched as it came to rest in a nearby tree, but couldn’t identify it.

Like the Black-billed Magpie that I featured yesterday, this bird, which I am pretty sure is a Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis), is not found in Northern Virginia where I live.

As I watched, this bird flew off several times, presumably in search of insects, but returned to the same perch each time at the top of a tree. I would have liked to have watched this beautiful bird for a while longer, but duty called—this is a business trip after all.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I couldn’t help but notice Black-billed Magpies (Pica hudsonia) here in Denver, Colorado, which I am visiting on a short business trip. The magpies are loud and boisterous, even in the area of my hotel just off of a major road.

It’s particularly nice to encounter these attractive birds because we don’t see them at all in Virginia. As is usually the case when I am travelling for business, I took these photos with a little Canon point-and-shoot and not my regular DSLR.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A few days after I stumbled upon a Common Sanddragon dragonfly, a new species for my favorite marshland park, I returned to the remote location with fellow photographer and local dragonfly expert Walter Sanford (who made the initial identification for me). Walter has a science background and his posting today of our encounter with the Sanddragons is full of fascinating scientific information as well as awesome photos of these beautiful little dragonflies. Be sure to check out his complete posting.

walter sanford's photoblog

Common Sanddragon dragonflies (Progomphus obscurus) are anything but common.

Despite its name, this species is rare in Northern Virginia. Source Credit: Common Sanddragon, Dragonflies of Northern Virginia, by Kevin Munroe, Park Manager, Huntley Meadows Park.

Kevin goes on to cite Bull Run and Goose Creek, two streams where he has seen Common Sanddragons, and speculates they may be found at two other locations in Northern Virginia. Well, you can add a third location where sanddragons have been seen and it’s right in Kevin’s wheelhouse!

Mike Powell, a fellow amateur wildlife photographer and blogger, photographed a clubtail dragonfly at Huntley Meadows Park on 17 June 2014 that he was unable to identify. Mike’s description of the habitat where he saw the dragonfly piqued my curiosity, so I asked him to send me a photo of the unknown dragon. Turns out Mike discovered a Common Sanddragon —…

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Female dragonflies are often less colorful and visible than their male counterparts, but are equally beautiful.

A week ago, I did a posting featuring the dark blue male Spangled Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula cyanea) and noted that the white stigma (markings) on the wings help in identifying this species. In today’s image, a female Spangled Skimmer appears to be a natural model as she smiles and poses for the camera


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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