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Posts Tagged ‘Swamp Darner’

Do you like to hang out in the swamp? Swamps may not be the most hospitable place for humans, but they provide a wonderful environment for all kinds of photogenic creatures. For example, the bright yellow Prothontary Warbler that I featured yesterday likes to hang out in a wooded swamp, unlike most warblers that prefer trees in a drier environment.

As I was photographing that bird two weeks ago at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I noticed some very large dragonflies flying around in the same area.  I recognized them as Swamp Darner dragonflies (Epiaeschna heros) and I was thrilled when one of the females decided to deposit some eggs in a fallen log not far from where I was standing observing the warbler. I had to bend down a bit, but essentially my feet stayed in the same spot.

It is definitely cool to be able to photograph two such colorful species from the same spot. The experience is a good reminder not to get so focused on your primary subject that you lose sight of what is happening around you. You never know when an equally good or even better subject may be at your feet, above your head, or to your right or left.

Swamp Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It is a little unusual for me to post photos of the same species twice within a few days, but I could not help myself when I captured this image of a female Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna heros) that provides such a wonderful view of her remarkable eyes.

Dragonfly eyes are always amazing, with their multiple lens that give the dragonfly almost 360 degree vision and the ability to see parts of the color spectrum that are invisible to the human eye. What is particularly striking about this Swamp Darner’s eyes are its varied colors and patterns. Wow!

The second image shows the same female Swamp Darner as she rested in a tree prior to beginning the task of depositing her eggs, which is what you see her doing in the first shot. I captured these images this past Tuesday during a visit to Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Maryland.

 

Swamp Darner

Swamp Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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On Monday I traveled to Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Maryland with fellow dragonfly enthusiast and blogger Walter Sanford to search for dragonflies. One of the highlights of the visit for me was spotting this female Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros) as she was laying her eggs. As you can see from these two photos Swamp Darners lay their eggs directly into wet wood with their blade-like ovipositor, unlike many other dragonflies that lay their eggs onto the water.

Swamp Darners are among the largest dragonflies in our area, about 3.4 inches in length (86 mm) and it was impressive to watch this one flying about over a swampy area of the refuge.

Swamp Darner

Swamp Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The weather yesterday was hot and sunny—perfect for dragonflies, although a little uncomfortable for me. I decided to search in the vicinity of a vernal pool, one of my favorite spots for dragonflies at Huntley Meadows Park. As I was walking along a small water-filled ditch, a large dragonfly flew up from the water and perched in a tree just a short distance away. I suspected it might be a Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna heros) and it turns out that I was right.

About this time each year, a number of female Swamp Darners descend on this small ditch to lay their eggs. Unlike many other dragonflies, which lay their eggs in the water, Swamp Darners lay their eggs in moist, often rotten logs. Essentially they tunnel into the wood before they lay the eggs.

I spotted the most likely target log and sat on the bank of the ditch to see if the dragonflies would come. It didn’t take long for them to arrive. Sometimes it was just one dragonfly, while at other times there were two or even three of them laying eggs in the same log. I was shooting with a 180mm macro lens, so I could not zoom out to include all of them (and I did not want to move for fear of scaring them away). In one of the photos, you can see two of the Swamp Darners in action and part of the abdomen of a third one in the upper left corner.

I don’t know if it is some biological imperative for species preservation that compels them to deposit these eggs, but the females were putting them everywhere. I was a little shocked when one of them landed on my mud-covered shoes and began to deposit eggs there.

The dragonflies were so focused on depositing their eggs that I was able to lean forward and get a close-up view of the face of one of them. I love dragonfly faces and especially their amazing giant eyes.

Swamp Darner

Swamp Darner

Swamp Darner

Swamp Darner

Swamp Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Yesterday I spotted this spectacular female Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros) at Huntley Meadows Park. At almost 3 1/2 inches long (90 mm), Swamp Darners are one of the largest dragonflies in our area.

It was a rare treat for me to capture shots of one perching—usually I see them only in flight. Like most darners, Swamp Darners hand vertically from vegetation, often low to the ground. I was fortunate to see this beautiful dragonfly fly to the perch and it remained there long enough for me to maneuver into position for a clear shot with my long zoom lens. I actually had to pull back from the maximum 600mm focal length of the lens in order to be able to fit the dragonfly’s entire body in the frame.

If you want to get a higher-resolution look at some of the wonderful details of this dragonfly, including the amazing colors of its eyes, be sure to click on the image.

Swamp Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was observing dragonflies on Friday at Huntley Meadows Park, a female Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros) decided that the spot right next to me was the perfect place for her to deposit some eggs. She seemed to fly right at me and then veered just slightly to the left and began to arch her back in the way that dragonflies do when ovipositing.

I was really close to this female dragonfly, so close that my 180mm macro lens might actually have been too much lens for the situation. This was an unusual situation for me—I am usually trying to get closer and closer to a subject. As dragonflies go, Swamp Darners are really large, as much as 4 inches (10 cm) in length.

I didn’t dare move back for fear of scaring her away, so I slowly moved my upper body to try to frame the action. These shots show a couple of the different body positions of the dragonfly as she deposits her eggs.

drag1_ovp_blogdrag2_ovp_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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This might be the most beautiful dragonfly that I have ever photographed, a Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna heros) that I encountered yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia. Swamp Darners have gorgeous colors, including incredibly striking blue eyes—be sure to click on the image to get a higher resolution view of the dragonfly.

swamp2_darner_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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