Posts Tagged ‘Stream Bluet’

There is a whole family of damselflies called bluets that all look similar and the pattern of the males is generally some combination of black and blue (though there is one family member called an Orange Blue, which sure sounds like an oxymoron to me). On Saturday as I was exploring Pohick Creek in Springfield, Virginia, I came across two damselflies in tandem position that looked to be bluets. I suspect that they had just mated and were getting ready to deposit the eggs.

I managed to get a decent angle for a shot that allowed most of their bodies to be in focus and figured that identification would be simple. I was wrong. I went back and forth over a series of images and drawings in two guidebooks before deciding that they were probably Stream Bluets (Enallagma exsulans). The habitat was right and the markings seemed to be almost right, but I waffled for a long time.

Am I correct in my identification? I’m still not really confident, but so far one person has agreed with me in a Facebook group in which I posted the photo. The creative side of me, though, is really happy with the image, irrespective of the correctness of my identification.

Stream Bluet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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There was a heavy mist in the air when I left my house early one morning this past weekend, but I had hopes it would burn off quickly when the sun came up. I was wrong. As I walked deeper and deeper into the woods, the mist turned to drizzle and the drizzle turned into light rain. Over the course of the next few hours we repeated that cycle several times.

I had enough protection for my gear, but I was soon sopping wet from the often knee-high vegetation through which I was walking. More significantly, however, most potential photographic subjects were exhibiting amazing common sense and appeared to have sought cover in drier spots.

All of the sudden, at a moment when the rain had slowed down, I detected some motion and saw a damselfly moving slowly through the air. It came to rest on some vegetation at the edge of a small stream.

I tried to steady myself as well as I could, because shooting such a small subject at the far end of my 150-600mm zoom lens is a challenge. Given that my camera has a crop sensor, I was shooting at a 35mm equivalent of a 960mm focal length.

When I returned home and looked at my shots, I was happy that at least a few of them were in relatively sharp focus. Now I was faced with the equally daunting task of identifying my subject. There is a whole family of damselflies known as bluets and most of them are primarily black and blue in color with minor variations in patterns. (There is one that I have photographed called an Orange Bluet, a name that causes me to chuckle whenever I see those two words used together).

I turned to some experts on a Facebook page called Northeast Odonata and they were able to identify this damselfly as a Stream Bluet (Enallagma exsulans).

The clock is ticking for dragonflies and damselflies, many species of which have very limited seasons, so I’ll be out as often as I can to try to spot some familiar ones and maybe even some new ones. Light rain does not deter me, though heavier rain and/or high winds will keep me at home.

Stream Bluet

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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