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Posts Tagged ‘Stylogomphus albistylus’

Some of you may remember my excitement from my blog posting a week ago when I photographed an Eastern Least Clubtail dragonfly (Stylogomphus albistylus) for the first time in my life. Yesterday I returned to the same location in Fairfax County and explored several branches of the stream in which I had previously seen the Eastern Clubtail perched on a rock.

I mostly paid attention to the sunny spots in the stream and to the stones in the middle of them, which they are supposed to prefer, but came up empty-handed. Eastern Least Clubtails are only 1.2 to 1.4 inches (31-36 mm) in length, so it was a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. I returned several times to the exact location where I previously photographed the dragonfly—I can actually identify the precise rock on which he perched—and on one of those occasions I visually tracked a dragonfly as it landed in some nearby vegetation.

Imagine my shock when I realized that the dragonfly perched only a few feet away was a male Eastern Least Clubtail—the shapes and brightness of the appendages at the tip of the abdomen (the “tail”) are unmistakeable. I captured a few images before the dragonfly flew off again and I was able to resume my breathing. I am not sure what kind of vegetation this is, but it made for a cool-looking landing pad for this handsome dragonfly.

According to the Dragonflies of Northern Virginia website, this species should be around until almost the end of July, so I will probably return a few more time to this spot to see if I can spot this tiny dragonfly again and, with some luck, will manage to spot a female—both of the Eastern Least Clubtails that I have photographed have been males.

Eastern Least Clubtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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It is not often that I have a chance to photograph a dragonfly species for the first time, so you can understand my excitement on Friday when I looked down at a rock in a small stream that I was exploring in Fairfax County and spotted this tiny male Eastern Least Clubtail (Stylogomphus albistylus). I knew that there was a chance that I might find one, because several other photographers had recently spotted this species, but it still came as a bit of a surprise when it actually happened.

As its name suggests, the Eastern Least Clubtail is the smallest of North American clubtails and among the smallest clubtails in the world at only 1.2 to 1.4 inches (31-36 mm) in length. As the Dragonflies of Northern Virginia website notes, “This small, thin dragonfly is easily overlooked, or mistaken for a damselfly. The dark coloring, slight build and small, clear wings require sharp eyes to spot.”

Fortunately this dragonfly was perched flat on a rock in a sunny spot of the stream, a male Eastern Least Clubtail’s preferred perch according to identification guides, so I managed to spot it. The dragonfly must have really liked that perch, because it remained in place as I carefully captured images of it from different distances and angles. In fact, this handsome little guy was still basking in the sun on that stone in the stream as I departed, filled with joy at my newest find.

 

Eastern Least Clubtail

Eastern Least Clubtail

Eastern Clubtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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