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Posts Tagged ‘Autumn Meadowhawk’

As I was going through my photos again from last week I came upon this image of an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) that I had spotted at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I already posted another shot of this dragonfly species from that day, but I like this shot even more, because it shows some of the details of the leaves on which the little red dragonfly was perched. I think the leaves help to give a better sense of the environment and emphasize the “autumn” in the name of the species.

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was thrilled yesterday to spot almost a dozen Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) dragonflies at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. These hardy little red dragonflies are always the last ones of the season and they often hang on until December. In some years they have even been spotted in early January.

When I explored the exact same area on Wednesday, I did not see a single one of these dragonflies. Why? Wednesday was heavily overcase, but yesterday the sun was shining brightly. Every single Autumn Meadowhawk that I saw was basking in the sun, perched on fallen leaves or logs. The sun seems to warm them up enough so that they can fly a bit, though I wonder if they manage to find anything to eat, given that there are almost no other insects flying.

So this year’s dragonfly season continues for at least a little while longer. As I search in the trees for birds, I will continue to look down as well, hopeful of spotting one of these beautiful aerial acrobats.

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Many people associate the color red with autumn because of the brilliant foliage that the season brings forth in places like New England. For me, though, red is an autumn color because of the bright red dragonflies that remain active in October and November (and sometimes even later in the year).

Yes, I continue to chase dragonflies as we move deeper and deeper into autumn. I spotted this handsome male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly(Sympetrum vicinum) last Wednesday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge in nearby Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Many of the Autumn Meadowhawks that I saw earlier this fall were females, which have a much more subdued coloration. There is nothing subdued about this male, which made it pretty easy to spot him, especially when he perched on a small stump at knee-level. You do have to pay attention to find them, however, because Autumn Meadowhawks are only about 1.3 inches (33 mm) in length.

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Most of my dragonflies have disappeared for the season. I will still occasionally spot a few survivors of the summer species, but their numbers are dwindling in the cooler autumn weather. One notable exception is the aptly named Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum). On Tuesday I spotted a good number of Autumn Meadowhawks while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and captured these images with my long telephoto zoom lens—it is a bit of a challenge to focus on such a small subject with a lens zoomed out to 600mm.

In the area in which I live, Autumn Meadowhawks remain with us throughout October and November. I have personally spotted some in December and have heard of other sightings in early January.

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday we were blessed with a sunny, warm day. The temperatures rose to over 60 degrees (16 degrees C) and my hopes that I might see some dragonflies increased correspondingly.

This autumn season we have already had some sub-freezing temperatures and even a couple of inches of snow. However, my past experience has shown that Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) are unusually hardy.

Autumn Meadowhawks are small, about 1.3 inches (33 mm) in length and tend to perch on the ground, which is now covered with fallen leaves and other debris. As a result, it is pretty hard to spot these little dragonflies, despite their bright red coloration.

I searched and searched and eventually found a few of them at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I was able to capture a number of images and decided to feature this one, because it gives you a good look at the dragonfly’s beautiful two-toned eyes.

Today we are back to cooler temperatures and there is snow in the forecast for this weekend. Will this be my last dragonfly of the season? I will continue to search for dragonflies for another month or so, though I know that my chances of finding one of these beautiful aerial acrobats will continue to drop.

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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There are not a great number of dragonflies still around in my area, and those that are present can sometimes be really hard to spot. That was definitely the case with this beautiful female Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) that blended in almost perfectly with the fallen leaves and other debris on the ground at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge this past week.

I initially spotted this dragonfly as she was flying and watched her land, but I couldn’t see her at first. Once I saw where she was, I had to back off, because I was shooting with my 150-600mm zoom lens that has a minimum focusing distance of almost 9 feet (270 cm).

Autumn Meadowhawks are only 1.2 to 1.4 inches in length (30 to 35mm) and spotting the tiny dragonfly from 9 feet away was a challenge to me and to the focusing system on my camera. I think that I was pretty much at the extreme end of the resolving power of the lens when I took this shot, i.e. it is tough to capture a subject with any detail that is much smaller than this.

I have already had to scrape frost from my windshield a couple of times this autumn, so the number of insects will inevitably continue to decrease. Past experience has shown me, however, that Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies are hardy survivors and I expect to continue to see them for another month or so.

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although we are well into October, some of my beloved dragonflies are still hanging on at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Here are some dragonfly shots from the past 10 days of (1) a male Blue-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum ambiguum); (2) a female Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) with a hoverfly in her mouth; and (3) a female Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum).

I hadn’t really noticed before I aggregated this shots that all three of the dragonflies were perching on leaves. During the summer months, a significant number of the dragonflies that I photograph are perched higher on stalks of vegetation or on branches. In addition to these smaller dragonflies,

I have also recently spotted Common Green Darners, Wandering Gliders, and Black Saddlebags patrolling over the fields. Unfortunately, none of them paused long enough for me to get shots of them. All three of those species are migratory species and they may have been fueling up for a long journey ahead.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

Eastern Pondhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Now that fall has officially arrived, I look forward to seeing more Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum), like this stunning female that I spotted last Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Adult males of this dragonfly species are bright red in color, but females can be either tan or red. The “spike” near the end of the abdomen makes it easy. though, to identify this one as a female.

In Northern Virginia, where I live, the Autumn Meadowhawk tends to be the latest surviving dragonflies—I have spotted them in mid-December and others have seen them in early January.

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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With the temperatures today reaching almost 100 degrees (38 C), I long for the cooler weather of autumn, my favorite season of the year. The aptly named Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) is generally one of the last surviving dragonfly species each year and I was therefore a bit surprised last week when I spotted this young female Autumn Meadowhawk. The very clear wings and pale body coloration are an indication that it had only recently emerged.

Summer, though, is the prime season for dragonflies and I hope to be able to take advantage of this season to see lots more of them. I’ll just have to make sure that I pace myself and stay well hydrated as we move through a period of exceptionally hot weather.

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As October begins, I renew my search for red dragonflies. Autumn is quite naturally the season when Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum) appear along with their more gaudily-colored brethren, the Blue-faced Meadowhawks (Sympetrum ambiguum). Both of these species have bright red bodies that should be easy to spot, but they like to perch low to the ground and sometimes even on fallen leaves, so you really have to pay attention.

I was a bit shocked on Monday to see some other small red dragonflies—at least three male Calico Pennant dragonflies (Celithemis elisa) were active at a small pond at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Calico Pennants are generally a summer species and I have featured them a couple of times earlier this year in this blog. According to the Dragonflies of Northern Virginia website, their peak flight time is June to July and their late date is 23 September (I saw the one below on 2 October).

There are still other active dragonflies, but over time their numbers will continue to drop. Autumn Meadowhawks, though, usually stay with us into December and, if I remember correctly, occasionally even into January. I’ll be continuing my October hunt for red dragonflies into November and beyond.

Calico Pennant

Calico Pennant on 2 October at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

 

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

Blue-faced Meadowhawk at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

 

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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With all of this cooler weather that we have had recently, including several frosty mornings, you might think that dragonfly season has ended, but it’s not over yet. Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) are still with us in pretty significant numbers at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia. In previous years I have continued to see these dragonflies into mid-December and one of my fellow photographers has seen them in early January.

Autumn Meadowhawks are small dragonflies, a little over one inch (25 mm) in length, so you have to look hard to spot them. At any other time of the year, their red bodies would make them really stand out, but they seem to like to perch on fallen leaves, including red ones, so they are often pretty well camouflaged until they move.

Here are a few favorite shots of these red beauties from this past weekend. Enjoy the dragonflies while you may and put off thoughts of the impending winter.

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am not about to make a sign proclaiming that “The End is Near,” but I couldn’t help feeling a slight sense of impending doom when I spotted an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) this past weekend. In our area, Autumn Meadowhawks are the ultimate survivors of the dragonfly season and they can usually be found well into December and occasionally into January.

This pretty red and brown dragonfly is a harbinger of doom—inexorably  winter is approaching and dragonflies will eventually cease to fly until the spring.  For now, though, I’ll continue to search for these spectacular aerial acrobats and enjoy their beauty and skill when I am lucky enough to find one.

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Fellow dragonfly enthusiast Walter Sanford managed to spot a dragonfly in January in Northern Virginia. Wow!

Be sure to check out his blog for more facts and photos about dragonflies, damselflies, and other little creatures.

walter sanford's photoblog

A single Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum), jokingly referred to as a “Winter Meadowhawk dragonfly” in a recent post, was observed on 03 January 2016 near the terminus of the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park. This sighting sets a new late-date for this species for both Huntley Meadows Park (formerly 27 December) and the Commonwealth of Virginia (formerly 01 January).

An Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female. 03 JAN 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | Autumn Meadowhawk (female)

This individual is a female, as indicated by her coloration, shape of the abdomen, and terminal appendages.

An Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female. 03 JAN 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | Autumn Meadowhawk (female)

The following graphic image shows the current air temperature in the central wetland area around the time when I spotted the record-setting dragonfly. 51°F is nearly 20 degrees less than 70°F, widely believed to be the minimum body temperature necessary for dragonfly flight!

HMP_wx-station 03 JAN 2016…

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Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies, the sole survivors at this time of the year, are very friendly and it’s not unusual for them to perch on you. It took some contortions, but I managed to get these shots recently of an Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) perched on my arm and my leg.

The first shot, in which the dragonfly was perched on my arm between my elbow and my wrist,  was particularly challenging, because I had to shoot it one-handed. My Canon 50D and Tamron 180mm macro lens together weigh close to 4 pounds (1800 grams), so it was a little tough to hold steady. Additionally, the lens has a minimum focusing distance of 18 inches (470 mm), so I had to slowly stretch out the arm to gain the needed distance for the shot. By comparison, the second shot, in which the dragonfly was on my leg, was easier to shoot and I was able to capture the dragonfly’s entire body.

With a little luck, I’ll continue to see these pretty little dragonflies for a few more weeks, and then I’ll turn my attention to birds (and hopefully the occasional mammal).

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some folks might be surprised to learn that I continue to spot dragonflies, despite the cooler weather of late November. Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum) are a particularly hardy species and in past years I have observed these tiny red beauties into December.

One of the challenges for the Autumn Meadowhawks is to warm up and I have noticed that they sometimes like to perch on one particular sign at Huntley Meadows Park, the county-run marshland park where I take many of my photos. The sign is angled to make it easier for viewers to read, making it perfect for a basking dragonfly.

In this image I was able to capture a favorite portion of the text on that sign and a cooperative Autumn Meadowhawk added a useful accent to the message. The last sentence sums up pretty well my view of nature and my aspiration during my visits to walk lightly.

walk lightly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am not particularly fond of mosquitoes and flies landing on me, but I love it when a colorful dragonfly chooses to do so. Autumn Meadowhawks are especially friendly in this regard and my friend Walter Sanford captured some fun images of these little red beauties that had landed on different parts of his body (and even included a few photos I took of him with his little friends). Check out his posting!

walter sanford's photoblog

The Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) were especially “friendly” during a recent visit to Huntley Meadows Park, landing on me frequently as Michael Powell and I were searching for Great Spreadwing damselflies (Archilestes grandis).

My Photos

The following individual is a male, perching on the leg of my Columbia convertible pants. Regular readers of my photoblog know I’m especially fond of head-tilts in which the dragonfly seems to display some of its personality. Like this guy, who I imagine is thinking “What are you looking at? That’s right pal, I’m perching on your pants!”

An Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, perching on my leg (Columbia pants). 11 NOV 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Autumn Meadowhawk (male)

The next photo shows two individuals perching on my pants, both females, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

Two Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. These individuals are females, perching on my leg (Columbia pants). 11 NOV 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Autumn Meadowhawk (male)

The last individual is another female. I shot this photo…

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What do you do when a dragonfly lands on you? My first reaction, of course, was to take a photo when this Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) landed on my leg on Friday.

The good news was that I had a macro lens on my camera, so I knew that I would be able to focus on the dragonfly. The bad news was that it was a 180mm  macro lens, so I had to go through acrobatic contortions to try to achieve enough distance to fit the entire dragonfly into the frame. I also had to move like a ninja to keep from scaring away my subject.

In the end, I managed to get a decent shot of the dragonfly by standing as tall as I could and shooting straight downward, although my gray sweatshirt billowed out a bit and obscured the view of the dragonfly’s feet. For those of you who are not familiar with Autumn Meadowhawks, they are small dragonflies with bodies about an inch or so in length (25mm).

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As we have moved deeper and deeper into autumn, the number of dragonflies at Huntley Meadows Park has continued to drop and the sole survivor now  appears to be the Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum).

During my most recent visit to the park on the 1st of December, I observed quite a few Autumn Meadowhawks, primarily perched on the synthetic boards of the boardwalk that runs through several portions of the marshland.

Some of them, however, seemed to really like one of the signs adjacent to the boardwalk that provides tips on wildlife watching at the park. The Autumn Meadowhawk in the first image seems to be fascinated by the photo of the crayfish at which it is intently staring. (This photo is an homage to fellow photographer Walter Sanford, who did a similar posting recently with the same sign and the same species of dragonflies.)

Autumn Meadowhawk

A month ago, I probably would have photographed the dragonfly with my macro lens, but now I have a telephoto zoom lens on my camera most of the time. I decided to use the dragonfly as a test for my new Tamron 150-600mm lens and took some shots at 600mm to see if I could capture any of the details of this small dragonfly, which is at most about 1.4 inches (35mm) long. If you click on the image below, which is a slightly cropped and lightly edited version of the original, you can see that the lens did a pretty good job with the details and you can even see the dragonfly’s tiny feet.

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawks frequently seem to be quite tolerant of the presence of people and sometimes will even seek it out and land on you. I will often try to coax one to perch on my finger and one of my fellow photographers, Lova Brown Freeman, took these wonderful shots of a successful attempt. Thanks, Lova. I like the fact that her final shot gives you an idea of  context in which you this activity took place. I am usually so anxious to zoom in close on the action, with macro or with telephoto, that I frequently forget to provide viewers with a view of the overall setting.

Autumn MeadowhawkAutumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Like my friend, Walter Sanford, I am thankful to have such a wonderful suburban oasis that serves as a refuge and an inspiration for so much of my outdoor photography. Walter has had a powerful influence on me as I have gotten more serious in my pursuit of dragonflies this past year. He has always been willing to share his time and extensive knowledge with so many of us, serving as an ambassador for Huntley Meadows Park. Thanks, Walter! Be sure to check out his blog for some amazing photos and fascinating information.

walter sanford's photoblog

It’s the traditional time of year when we give thanks for our many blessings. I am especially thankful for the opportunity to be a frequent and careful observer of the natural beauty of the hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park, and for many good friends with whom I share the experience. And thanks to WordPress.com for the blog that enables me to share my sightings with others!

Last year I noticed a single male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) perching on the signage along the boardwalk, located near the observation tower. I wondered how many visitors wandered past the sign without noticing the dragonfly watching the “Wildlife Watching” sign.

On Veteran’s Day, 11 November 2014, I noticed two male Autumn Meadowhawks perching on the same sign so I stopped to take a few photos (shown above). Nearly a dozen people passed me and not one person stopped to see what…

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When I captured these two images of mating dragonflies on the 10th of November, I did not realize that their frantic efforts to perpetuate their species that day would mark an end to this year’s dragonfly season for me. There is a chance that some especially hardy Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum) may have survived our recent spell of bitter cold, but realistically speaking, it’s time to put my macro lenses on the shelf and focus my photographic efforts and birds (and the occasional small mammal).

The Autumn Meadowhawks in the first image were a little higher off the ground that the Blue-faced Meadowhawks (Sympetrum ambiguum) in the second shot and I managed to get into a better shooting position to capture details and separate the dragonflies a bit from the background.  In case of the Blue-faced Meadowhawks, I was so thrilled to see them so late into November that I was willing to settle for a lower angle shot with a more cluttered background.

Most of the time I feature only a single species of dragonflies in a posting and it’s a little hard to compare the featured dragonflies with others. It’s a whole lot easier to see the differences between the species when you compare the two photos here.

And so this year’s dragonfly season draws to a close, as the mating couples dance their last tango of the autumn.

Autumn Meadowhawk matingBlue-faced Meadowawk mating

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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“Make sure the eyes are in focus.” I can’t even count the number of times that I have read or heard these words of advice, which I usually try to follow, even when taking extreme close-up macro shots.

These are the compound eyes of the Autumn Medowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum), a close relative of the Blue-faced Meadowhawk that I have featured in several postings recently. I took this shot on a cool day when the dragonfly was perched on a tree, trying to warm itself in the warmth of the sun. The camera’s aperture setting was in a middle range at f/9.0, but with the subject this close, the depth of field was pretty shallow and the eyes are pretty much the only portions of the dragonfly in focus (in addition to small section of the wings and the front legs).

autumn_close1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) have finished mating, the male does not release the female, but continues to clasp her head tightly with the tip of his abdomen. The pair flies off together in the “tandem” position and remains attached until the female has finished depositing her eggs, normally in the water.

A chivalrous interpretation of this behavior might be that the male is merely protecting his mate from clamoring suitors and allowing her to oviposit in peace. The reality, though, is that there is a fierce competition among males that can sometimes involve attempt to dislodge a rival’s sperm from a female and replace it with his own if the female has not yet laid her eggs. By holding onto the female, the male increases his odds of fathering some baby dragonflies.

Check out a 2006 National Georgraphic article called Dragonflies Strange Love for some other fascinating insights into the love life of dragonflies.

Earlier this month, I was at a small pool of water and I watched as a series of Autumn Meadowhawk couples in tandem went through the process of ovipositing and I attempted to get some in-flight shots of them. These dragonflies are really small and my success rate in keeping them in the frame was not high, but I did manage to get a few decent images.

Hopefully the practice in tracking a moving subject will carry over and help me as I move to photographing birds in flight, rather than dragonflies.

Autumn MeadowhawkAutumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Have you ever tried to photograph a living subject—or even worse, a pair of them—perched on one of your knees? Depth of field is a huge challenge and even trying to frame the subject is complicated, especially when you have a 180mm macro lens on your camera.

Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum) are the most friendly dragonflies I have ever encountered. I don’t know what attracts them—perhaps it’s curiosity—but I found out last year that they are prone to perch on me.

Surprisingly, they will even perch as a pair when they are still in tandem, the position that this species uses when the female is ovipositing, i.e. placing her eggs in the water after mating. The male hangs on to the female by the head, presumably to keep other males from interfering with the process.

In my initial attempt to get a shot of the couple, I focused on the male, and the female is completely out of focus.  For the second attempt, I tried to twist myself around to photograph them from the side and almost fell over in the process. The female is more in focus, but the male is now slightly out of focus.

As the season progresses, I’ll see if I can find some even more cooperative Autumn Meadowhawks and try to get a shot of one perched on one of my fingertips, as I did last year.

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

Later in the day, a male Autumn Meadowhawk landed on my leg and I had much better success in getting some clear shots. I used a similar approach, taking the first shot from above and the second one from the side. My pants are a solid tan color and it is interesting to see how it almost looks like I was wearing a seersucker suit.

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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It’s hard not to feel a little bit like a voyeur when I move in close to capture the details of an intimate encounter between two wild creatures. There is something especially intriguing about the acrobatic maneuvers of colorful mating dragonflies, like this pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) that I photographed in the “wheel” position at my local marshland park in late October.

Many times I have to assume equally acrobatic positions to capture the action. Fellow photographer and dragonfly enthusiast Walter Sanford photographed me in one such pose in an image that I included in a previous posting entitled “My view of the mating dragonflies.”

On this occasion, however, the dragonflies were much more accommodating and they perched at eye level on the top of some vegetation. The couple was back-lit, but a little fill flash helped to bring out the details and the colors.

In this case, at least, the brightly-colored  dragonflies seemed to be exhibitionists and I felt less like a voyeur, though I must confess that I did not shield my eyes and turn away from the activity.

Autumn Meadowhawks mating

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am looking for some background information—do you generally prefer creamy smooth backgrounds in your photos or do like there to have some elements of texture?  This is a ridiculous question, of course, and it’s a bit like asking me if I like chocolate or strawberry ice cream. I like them both, but in certain situations I may prefer one over the other.

These musings came to mind when I was reviewing the some photos I took this past week of Autumn Meadownhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum). These little red dragonflies are perennially the last species to disappear in our area and I am likely to see them well into November and sometimes into early December.

The first image below shows a male Autumn Meadowhawk with the kind of background that I usually try to shoot, blurred and uncluttered. The thorn on the green stem adds an unexpected bit of additional interest for me.

The background of the second image with a female Autumn Meadowhawk is completely different—the lines and texture of the decaying log are very evident. Sometimes when I look at the image I think that the background is too distracting, because I have to look hard to see the details of the dragonfly. At other times, I am drawn in by the organic feel of the wood in the background and I really like the diagonal lines and rough texture.

These two images work well for me in tandem, juxtaposing as they do different genders, very different backgrounds, and radically different angles of view. These kinds of sharp contrasts often prompt me to stop and think as I consider the images—and that is generally a good thing.

 

male Autumn Meadowhawkfemale Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Many of the other dragonflies are gone for the season, but the Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum) will be around for quite some time, possibly even into December. Autumn Meadowhawks like to perch on the ground much of the time, but yesterday I was happy to capture one in what I consider to be its natural environment, perched among the colorful leaves of the autumn foliage.

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As their name suggests, Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum) appear later in the year than most other dragonflies. This past weekend I spotted quite a number of mating pairs, including this couple that I captured in an acrobatic position worthy of the Cirque du Soleil. The dramatic lighting and colorful background added to the theatrical feel of the image, as all the elements worked together to focus our attention on the performance.

Autumn Meadowawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Here’s an awesome image of a pair of mating dragonflies by a photographer with whom I often go shooting at my local marshland park. Be sure to check out the rest of his blog for some more amazing shots.

walter sanford's photoblog

Lately I’ve been working harder at “making art” rather than just getting a shot. How am I doing?

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

The preceding photo shows a mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted during a photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park on Sunday, 28 September 2014. The pair is shown “in wheel.”

The copulatory, or wheel, position is unique to the Odonata, as is the distant separation of the male’s genital opening and copulatory organs. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 377-378). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

All dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen: male dragonfly secondary genitalia are located in segments two and three (2 and 3); female genitalia in segment eight (8). Therefore, the male dragonfly is on top; the female is on the bottom.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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When an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) landed on my thigh last Friday, my first thought was to get a photograph of him. Fortunately, my 100mm macro lens was already on my camera—in anticipation of a shot like this—and I was able to capture a close-up, eye-to-eye portrait of the dragonfly by contorting my body and attempting to stabilize my shooting position.

My blue jeans were broken in and their texture, color, and pattern made a pretty cool backdrop for this colorful dragonfly. It may be my imagination, but he seemed to be looking up at me with a mixture of curiosity and amusement.

For whatever reason, many of these dragonflies, which I was able to observe as recently as yesterday, do not seem fearful of people. The classic Drifters song from the 1960’s may talk of spending time with your sweetheart under the boardwalk, but these Autumn Meadowhawks seem to spend most of their time warming up on (and not under) the boardwalk, with periodic mating forays into the bushes.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It may be mid-November, but one hardy dragonfly species is still around here in Northern Virginia—the Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum).

The dragonflies were unusually friendly today, perching on my sweatshirt and jeans numerous times, though they spent most of the time trying to warm themselves in the sun on the boardwalk. Here is a close-up shot of a male Autumn Meadowawk that I coaxed onto my fingertip yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park. All I had to do was slowly move my finger forward and several times a dragonfly accommodated by crawling onto the finger.

Needless to say, it was an interesting challenge trying to hold one finger out as far as I could and then focus and shoot my DSLR with the other hand. Fortunately I had switched to my macro lens—my arms would not have been long enough to get within the minimum focusing distance of the telephoto zoom lens that I had been using earlier in the day. Click on the photos to get a higher-resolution look at the details of the dragonfly’s compound eyes.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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