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Posts Tagged ‘female Great Blue Skimmer’

This female Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) seemed to be grinning at me one morning this past week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Smiling is contagious, I have found.

I hope that your Sunday brings an equivalent smile to your face.

Great Blue Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Although the astronomical calendar indicates that it is now autumn, the summer season continues for many dragonflies. Many of them are showing a lot of wear and tear, like this female Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans) with tattered wings that I spotted last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

At this time of the year it is not uncommon to see dragonflies and butterflies with damaged wings, but this is one of the most extreme cases that I have ever witnessed. Amazingly, she was still able to fly.

Great Blue Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Females are a real mystery to me, especially when it comes to dragonflies. At this time of the year I see a lot of different dragonflies and I have featured a number of the colorful males over the past few weeks. They are relatively easy to identify when they are mature—immature males, however, often have the same coloration as females.

The challenge with females, particularly a number of the members of the Skimmer family, is that they all look pretty much the same.  This past Friday I photographed this beautiful female dragonfly and I love the two-toned coloration of her eyes. After consulting with my local dragonfly expert Walter Sanford, I have concluded that she is probably a Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans), though she doesn’t have a spot of blue on her

Great Blue Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the dangers of shooting with a macro lens is that I am often so focused on shooting close-up that I forget to step back and look at the bigger picture.

A couple of days ago, I posted a photo of a dragonfly basking in the sun and felt pretty content that I had been able to capture a detailed shot of its eyes and face. I had instantly gravitated to several close-up images to the point that I temporarily forgot that my initial shots had been from a greater distance. As a result, I made my preliminary identification on the basis of the facial shot alone.

After I posted the image on Facebook, one of my fellow photographers, Walter Sanford, who is much more of an expert on dragonflies than I am, asked me if I had any shots of the dragonfly’s entire body, probably with a desire to check my identification. When I reviewed my more distant shots of the dragonfly, I was immediately struck by how tattered the wings were of this female Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans). Sure, I’ve seen lots of dragonflies with minor damage to the wings, but these are seriously tattered.

When I posted these follow-up images on Facebook, Walter replied, “Definitely an old female Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly, as indicated by its tattered wings, coloration, and flanges beneath the eighth abdominal segment. The flanges are used to scoop and hold a few drops of water when laying eggs (oviposition), hence the family name “skimmer.” ”

Be sure to check out Walter’s blog for his wonderful shots of dragonflies and his more  scientific descriptions of his subjects. My background was more in the liberal arts area rather than in science, and my writing in my blog tends to be a reflection of that background.
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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was suffering in the heat and humidity on Friday, but this dragonfly, which I think is a female Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans), seemed to enjoy basking in the sunlight and let me get really close for this shot.

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© 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.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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