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Posts Tagged ‘Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge’

Normally I see turtles at water level, but this intrepid turtle had climbed up the trunk of an overhanging tree at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge on Monday and was perched several feet about the surface of the pond. I love the way that his coloration and texture almost perfectly match those of the tree.

turtle in a tree

A short while later I encountered three turtles perched on the trunk of a tree growing at an angle out of the water. The angle was steep enough that I was not sure how they managed to get themselves into position or how they were able to keep from sliding down into the water.

turtles in a tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A warm, sunny springtime day caused all kinds of creatures to appear, including this Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) that I spotted on a concrete fishing platform at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge in Alexandria, Virginia. This variety of skinks is one of the few lizards in the area in which I live and the skinks tend to be elusive and skittish, so I generally see only the tail of the skink as it is running away.

This skink and I engaged in a protracted game of hide-and-seek as I sought to get close enough for some shots. Although I would have been a bit happier with a more natural backdrop, I am relatively content with the images that I was able to capture.

Common Five-lined Skink

 

Common Five-lined Skink

Common Five-lined Skink

© 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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I love ladybugs but don’t see them very often.  I was therefore pretty happy on Monday when I spotted this one crawling around in the vegetation at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge. So often a ladybug will keep its head so close to the vegetation that it’s hard to see it, but this one cooperated by raising its head, almost like it was posing for me.

ladybug

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The leaves are speckled with blemishes and the Red-spotted Purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis) is faded and tattered, but there is real beauty in the imperfection of autumn. Photographed this past weekend at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Red-spotted Purple

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I’m always happy to see a black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia). I love its colorful patterns and its intricate web (and apologies to readers who are totally creeped out by spiders). I spotted this beauty this past weekend in a patch of goldenrod at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge.

Argiope aurantia

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When fellow photographer and local dragonfly expert Walter Sanford posted a photo of a Russet-tailed Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) that he had spotted on Thursday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge, I was filled with an overwhelming urge to see if I could find the dragonfly. At this time of the year, as the dragonfly season winds down, I really don’t think much about finding new species, so this was an exciting challenge.

I knew the general location, but I forgot to ask Walter for more specific information about his find. Was it near the water or in the woods or along the stream or among the wildflowers? It was a kind of crazy quixotic quest, but I am pretty persistent, so I scoured the area, making loop after loop around a small pond.

My hope and my energy were beginning to fade when I suddenly caught sight of a dragonfly’s wings shining in the sunlight. The dragonfly was perched on some vegetation at the edge of the treeline. Moving as stealthily as I could, I approached the dragonfly and realized that I had found the Russet-tipped Clubtail. I often complain about the inappropriateness of the names of insects, but in this case it fit perfectly.

I managed to take a number of shots of the perching dragonfly before it flew off, heading deeper into the woods. After it had flown a short distance, it seemed to stop abruptly in mid-air. What was going on? I switched to manual focus and took a few shots and then began to worry that the dragonfly had gotten caught in a bit of spider web. (All morning long I kept running into spider webs at face level as I walked through the woods.) As I moved my hand closer to the dragonfly in an attempt to free it, the dragonfly flew off and disappeared. I didn’t see any evidence of a spider web, so it was probably only my overly active imagination.

This was one of my most memorable encounters with a dragonfly. I may stop by again this weekend to see if it is still hanging around, but the chances are not good that I will see it again. Still, lightning can strike twice and that kind of optimism helps to fuel my enthusiasm for photography.

Russet-tipped Clubtail

Russet-tipped Clubtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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