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Archive for the ‘damselfly’ Category

I love close-up photography, but sometimes it is good when necessity (or choice) compels me to shoot from a distance. This image has the simplest of compositions—a damselfly and a stalk on which to perch—but I like the way that the elements combined to create a sense of tranquility when I captured this moment this past Monday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge.

As I recall, the light was coming from in front of me, which caused the damselfly to appear as a partial silhouette. Without the normal color information, it’s hard for me to identify the species of damselfly with any degree of certainty. One of the experts on a Facebook forum, however, suggest that it might be a Variable Dancer damselfly (Argia fumipennis), the sames species that appears at the top of my blog’s home page.  As for the dried-out stalk that serves as a perch for the damselfly, I have no idea what kind of plant it is.

tranquil damselfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Although many damselflies are tiny in size and difficult to spot from a distance, spreadwing damselflies are a notable exception. Spreadwing damselflies tend to be quite a bit larger than other damselflies and they rest with their wings partly open in the “spreadwing” posture that gives the family its common name. (Most other damselflies rest with their wings held closed, usually above their abdomen, which makes them harder to see and to photograph.)

When I flushed this damselfly yesterday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, I was immediately struck by the length of its body—it seemed to be really long and skinny.  The spreadwing family is not all that big, but I still had trouble identifying the species of the damselfly. As is usually the case in this kind ofsituation, I turned to my local expert, fellow dragonfly enthusiast and blogger Walter Sanford, who identified it as a female Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis).  I sometimes complain about the inappropriateness of the names of species, but in this case “slender spreadwing” is a perfect match for the subject that I observed.

In case you are curious about the photo, I shot it with my Tamron 150-600mm telephoto zoom lens on my Canon 50D DSLR. Over the winter I have become accustomed to using a monopod for stability and for this shot, I lowered the monopod and shot while kneeling. One of the limitations of the lens is that the minimum focusing distance is almost 9 feet (274 cm). At that distance, the camera’s autofocus system had trouble locking on the slender body of the damselfly—it kept focusing on the vegetation—so I resorted to manual focusing.

Most people are more familiar with dragonflies than with damselflies, but I encourage you to slow down and search for beautiful damselflies, the smaller members (in most cases) of the order of Odonata to which dragonflies also belong.

 

Slender Spreadwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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There are often a few moments in the early morning when the world seems completely at peace. The waters are calm and reflections are almost perfectly mirror-like. Sometimes there is enough light to take photographs, but even when there is not, I enjoy getting up early simply to savor those moments.

This past Monday morning, when I arrived at a small pond at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I noticed the beautiful reflections and my attention was drawn to a stick protruding out of the water. As I zoomed in on the stick, I noticed a damselfly perched on it. Damselflies belong to the same order of Odonata as dragonflies, but usually are smaller in size, often 1 to 1.5 inches in length (25–38 mm).

I decided to take some shots of the stick and the perching damselfly and as I was doing so, the damselfly flew away. I managed to capture the image below as the dragonfly was returning to its perch.

An expert on a Facebook forum identified the damselfly for me as an Orange Bluet (Enallagma signatum). Most members of the bluet family of damselflies are colored with various combinations of blue (as the name suggests) and black, but some family members are also orange or red. I shake my head and smile every time that I use the curious word combination “orange bluet.”

This image is somewhat atypical for me in the sense that it is not a close-up portrait. Most of the time I try to use my telephoto zoom or macro lens to capture as many details of my subject as I can. In cases like this, though, I am content to capture an image that evokes the mood of the moment. There is a kind of minimalist simplicity in this photo that really appeals to me.

Orange Bluet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Damsels in Vienna? Here are a few shots of some beautiful little damselflies that I encountered this past weekend during a visit to the Donau-Auen National Park in Vienna, Austria.

While traveling for work I normally leave at home my Canon DSLR and big lenses and use instead a Canon SX50 point-and-shoot camera with a super zoom lens. There are some compromises and limitations with this type of camera, but I am quite pleased with the results I can achieve using it, including these almost-macro images.

damselfly in Vienna

damselfly in Vienna

damselfly in Vienna

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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At first I thought it was love, but looking closer I realized that Tina Turner was right—what’s love got to do with it. Both the predator and the prey in what appears to be an act of cannibalism look to be Big Bluet damselflies (Enallagma durum), which I spotted this past Sunday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

The pale coloration of the victim suggests to me that it is newly-emerged, a phase referred to as “teneral.” At this stage of development, dragonflies and damselflies are relatively immobile as their bodies and wings are transforming and are particularly vulnerable.

damselfly cannibalism

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When a Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia) traps a prey in its web, it often moves so quickly to wrap it up completely that it is difficult to identify the prey. That was not the case with the damselfly that I spotted yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as it was being encased in a silken shroud.

The damselfly looks to be a bluet damselfly and if pressed, I’d guess that it might be a Familiar Bluet (Enallagma civile) or possibly a Big Bluet (Enallagma durum). The spider seems to be experiencing the same kind of problem that I encounter when I am trying to wrap an awkwardly-shaped present at Christmas time—it is hard to be neat and tidy, the process uses up lots of wrapping material, and the package always end up irregularly shaped and easy to identify.

spider and damselfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

 

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Over the last few years it has become traditional for me to be in Brussels over Labor Day weekend in early September for meetings. After I arrived today, I had some free time and captured these images of damselflies in the Botanical Gardens. Some of them are quite similar to those that I see at home, while others appear to be a bit different. As is often the case when I am traveling for work, I left my big camera at home and took these shots with my Canon SX50 HS superzoom camera.

damselfly in Brussels

damselfly in Brussels

mating damselflies in Brussels

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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