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Posts Tagged ‘Basiaeschna janata’

During a recent dragonfly hunting trip with my friend and fellow dragonfly enthusiast Walter Sanford, I was thrilled when we stumbled upon several Springtime Darner dragonflies (Basiaeschna janata). As their name suggests, they are in flight early in the dragonfly season and are gone well before many of the summer dragonfly species arrive.

I first spotted one flying low over the vegetation in an overgrown field. It dropped down into the vegetation, but I was fortunately to be able to find where it was perched. As you can see in the first photo, Springtime Darners perch vertically, making it hard to see them amid all of the nearby stalks and stems. The female in the first photo was relatively cooperative and I was able to position myself well enough to have most of her body in focus. I encourage you to click on the image to see all of the wonderful details and colors of this beautiful dragonfly.

Although we had several more encounters with Springtimes Darners, all of those individuals were very skittish and it was tough to get any good shots. I included the second shot below because it shows really well the body of a male Springtime Darner, although the head is a bit out of focus because of the way he was perched.

Walter also did a blog posting on our encounter with these beautiful dragonflies. Be sure to check it out at this link and you will find more information about this dragonfly species and his photos and “take” on our dragonfly adventure.

 

Springtime Darner

Springtime Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I have captured images of many beautiful dragonflies in the past, but I am not sure that any of them can quite match the spectacular colors and pattern of this female Springtime Darner dragonfly (Basiaeschna janata) that I photographed this past Friday at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

Springtime Darners appear to be be pretty uncommon at our park—they are few in number and are active for only a very limited period of time early in the spring. Last year, fellow photographer Walter Sanford and I spotted the first known Springtime Darner at Huntley Meadows Park, but it was only a brief encounter and we never again spotted one.

Walter and I were determined that we would do better this year. Already this spring, he and I have separately explored likely locations for hours on end without success. On Friday, we decided to work together as a team. Our experience has shown that having an extra set of eyes really helps in spotting and tracking our elusive flying subjects.

After several hours of searching, we finally caught sight of a dragonfly in flight. It flew about a bit and then it finally perched—our moment had arrived for indeed it was a Springtime Darner. Springtime Darners will generally perch vertically on vegetation low to the ground. My view of the dragonfly was obscured, but fortunately Walter could see it and began to compose some shots.

I stood still for what seemed like an eternity, fearful of spooking the dragonfly, but finally was able to move forward to a spot with a somewhat clearer view of the dragonfly. The only problem was that I couldn’t pick out the dragonfly amidst all of the vegetation. I was shooting with my 180mm macro lens, which meant that I couldn’t simply zoom in to get a better view. Walter patiently described for me the specific location and I took some initial shots without actually seeing the dragonfly.

Eventually I was able to see what I thought was the dragonfly and captured a few shots before it flew away, though I never had a really clear view of it. Although we searched and searched, we were not able to relocate the dragonfly, nor did we see another Springtime Darner.

I was not very hopeful when I downloaded my images from my memory card to my computer and was surprised when I saw that somehow I had captured some of the beautiful colors and patterns of the Springtime Darner. Normally I like to try to isolate my subjects from the background and the background in these two images was unavoidably really cluttered, but I’m really happy with them.

I am happy with the images, but not quite satisfied—I’ll be out again soon to search for more Springtime Darners, hopefully including a male, as well as other dragonflies and damselflies. My dragonfly season has only just begun.

Springtime Darner

Springtime Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Local dragonflies are finally starting to emerge in Northern Virginia and yesterday I was thrilled to capture some images of the appropriately named Springtime Darner (Basiaeschna janata) at Huntley Meadows Park, the marshland where I spend a lot of my time exploring and taking photos.

This is the first time that I have seen this beautiful species, which will be gone by mid-June, according to information on the Dragonflies of Northern Virgina website, a wonderful resource put together by Kevin Munroe, a dragonfly expert and the manager of Huntley Meadows Park. If you want more information specifically about the Springtime Darner, you can go directly to this page, but I think it’s fascinating to poke about in the different areas of the site.

This is also the first documented sighting of a Springtime Darner in the park and I am pretty excited to be partially responsible for a new addition to the park’s species list. Yesterday I was trekking through the muddy back areas of the park with fellow blogger and photographer Walter Sanford, who is much more knowledgeable about dragonflies than I am. He knew precisely what dragonflies we could hope to see and the specific type of habitat where we should expect to see them. After several hours in the hot sun, our persistence was rewarded when Walter spotted this Springtime Darner. Check out Walter’s blog posting called Teamwork, and some take-aways for his observations about yesterday’s discovery.

With more new dragonflies soon to come, it won’t be long before I’ll be walking around primarily with my macro lens on my camera. Fortunately, I was prescient enough yesterday to have switched midday from my 150-600mm telephoto zoom, which would have had trouble capturing the dragonfly because of its minimum focusing distance of 107 inches (2.7 meters), to my 180mm macro lens, which was more suited to the situation we encountered.

I did, however, have to rely on manual focusing to get this shot, which I find to be challenging with a digital camera, especially when shooting handheld. The Springtime Darner likes to perch low on vegetation, so I was on hands and knees, hoping not to spook this specimen, which was the only dragonfly that I managed to photograph yesterday.

I think it’s safe to say that dragonfly season is officially open and I am pretty confident that there will be new blog postings in upcoming months as my adventures with dragonflies continue.

Springtime Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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