Posts Tagged ‘Green Darner dragonfly’

On Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I was thrilled to spend some time hanging out with this Common Green Darner dragonfly (Anax junius). The range of colors on its body is so remarkable that I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I zoomed in on it. An expert in a dragonfly forum on Facebook noted to me that the dragonfly is a teneral one, which means that it has only newly emerged. That would account for its relatively pale, almost pastel coloration and the perfect condition of its wings. If you click on the image, you can see even better some of the remarkable details of this dragonfly, like the colorful pattern on its “nose.”

The beautiful dragonfly was hanging vertically only a few inches above the ground, in a pretty safe location. I kept my distance as I took some photos and departed quietly, conscious of the fact that a dragonfly is fragile and vulnerable at this early stage of development. It remained in place as I slowly slipped away.

Green Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday at my local marsh, I noticed some large dragonflies flying over the cattails and realized that it was migrating season for Green Darner dragonflies (Anax junius). I don’t usually think of dragonflies as migratory creatures, but I recall from early spring that Green Darner dragonflies spend their winters in the south and migrate north in the spring (or at least their offspring fly north).

Green Darners are pretty big dragonflies, with bodies up to 3 inches (75mm), so I decided to try to photograph one in mid-flight. Another photographer and I spent almost an hour trying to track and photograph the dragonflies. Unlike other times, when I photographed dragonflies when they were hovering, I was attempting to capture these dragonflies as they were flying at a normal speed, which greatly complicated the task.

I knew that there was no way that I could isolate a flying dragonfly against the green plants of the marsh, so I concentrated on the dragonflies in areas in which I would have the sky as a backdrop. I used my 180mm macro lens and would try to follow a dragonfly in the viewfinder and track it, hoping it would fly close enough for me to attempt a shot. As I was tracking the dragonfly, I would focus manually. Needless to say, my success rate was really low, but I am happy that I managed to get the shot below of what I believe to be a female Green Darner. My fellow photographer, who was using a 70-200 telephoto zoom lens used a different approach and pre-focused on an area and took a shot when a dragonfly entered that capture zone.

It was a beautiful, sunny fall day and I enjoyed this challenge, which gave me a greater appreciation for the aerial skills of dragonflies—they are really tough to track. This practice, though, should help me later in the fall when I start to take more photographs of birds.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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