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Posts Tagged ‘bluet’

Recently I did a posting that featured Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies (Papilio glaucus)—see Swallowtails in the forest.  None of those butterflies seemed to be involved in searching for nectar and seemed content to take in minerals and water.

Last Friday I returned to that same location in Prince William County, Virginia and discovered that the butterflies were taking advantage of the few small flowers that were blooming. In the first photo, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was nectaring on the small bluets (Houstonia caerulea) that are sometimes referred to as Quaker Ladies. The butterfly was so low to the ground that it looked like it was dragging its “tails.”

The butterfly in the second image is a dark morph Eastern Tiger Swallowtail female. Females of this species are dimorphic—there is a yellow variant that looks like the one in the first photo and a dark variant that looks like the one in the second image. The dark morph female was almost flat on the ground as she gathered nectar from a very short dandelion.

As more flowers begin to bloom, I am sure these butterflies will have a better selection of sources of nourishment, but the early arrivers have to make do with a really limited menu of choices.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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For a brief period each spring, tiny wildflowers spring up from the forest floor, giving the forest a magical feel. Some are colorful and some are pure white, but the wildflowers are all beautiful.

I spotted these little flowers on Monday as I was searching for dragonflies in Prince William County, Virginia. I came up empty-handed that day and am still searching for my first dragonfly of the season. However, I had an enjoyable day, covering almost six miles (9.6 km) on hilly trails through the forest.

The first photo shows a bluet (Houstonia caerulea), a species that is sometimes referred to as a “Quaker Lady,” because its shape is reportedly similar to that of the hats once worn regularly by women of the Quaker faith. The flower in the second shot is a Star Chickweed (Stellaria pubera), I believe. The flower in the final photo is probably a wild violet (Viola sororia).

As you can readily see, I got really close to the flowers and used a macro lens. I love the detailed views of their shapes, patterns, and colors and encourage you to click on each image to immerse yourself more deeply in their beauty. In these troubled times, nature continues to serve as a balm to my soul.

bluet

star chickweed

wild violet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Walking through the forest is such a joy at this time of the year with all kinds of ephemeral spring wildflowers popping up, including the Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Quaker Ladies (Houstonia caerulea), and Cutleaf Toothwart (Cardamine concatenata) that I spotted last Monday at Prince William Forest Park. Some of these flowers bloom for only a few days, so I am always thrilled when I am able to capture shots of them during that brief period.

I am definitely not an expert on wildflowers and welcome corrections if I have misidentified any of these species.

bloodroot

Quaker Ladies

Cutleaf Toothwart

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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I featured some tiny white forest wildflowers in a recent posting. Here now as a companion to that posting are a few images of colorful forest wildflowers that I have seen when exploring recently in Prince William County.

The first shot is a small wildflower known simply as a Bluet (Houstonia caerulea). The flower in the second image is the appropriately named Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica), known also as the Eastern Spring Beauty, because there is also a similar Western Spring Beauty (Claytonia lanceolata). I do not know for sure the name of third flower, but I believe that it is some kind of wild violet.

As always, I welcome assistance in identifying my subjects, particularly if I have misidentified one. Thanks.

bluet

spring beauty

wild violet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was a pleasant surprise to see this colorful Familiar Bluet damselfly (Enallagma civile) last Friday at Huntley Meadows Park. With the arrival of frigid weather, with temperatures at near-freezing levels at night, however, I fear that it will be my last damselfly sighting of the season.

When I first spotted this damselfly, I had my  Tamron 150-600mm zoom lens on my camera. I didn’t want to take my eyes off of the damselfly, for fear of losing sight of it in the underbrush, so I decided to make do with the long zoom lens. I quickly realized that I had a few obstacles to overcome. The minimum focusing distance of the lens is almost nine feet (2.7 meters), so I had to back up. At that distance the damselfly was so small that my autofocus did not want to lock onto it, so I was forced to focus manually, while handholding the lens at 600mm.

I ended up trying to do environmental portraits, rather then the close-ups that I generally prefer to take. I like the way that the seasonal coloration of the background helps the blue of the damselfly’s body really stand out, almost like it is an alien visitor in a foreign land.

Farewell, sweet damsels of the air, until we meet again in the spring.

Familiar Bluet

Familiar Bluet

© 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.

damsel_bnb_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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