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Posts Tagged ‘Tramea lacerata’

Many dragonflies like to perch on or near the ground, but some prefer to relax at the top of the trees, like this Black Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerata) that I spotted last Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. From this angle you can easily see the dark patches on the rear wings that someone decided looked like “saddlebags.”

Those patches somehow remind me of the famous inkblots of the Rorschach test. I suspect that. if asked, people have widely varying ideas about what they look like, though I know that I personally would not want to have any psychological interpretations attributed to my perceptions or to my imagination.

Black Saddlebags

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Autumn seems to be the season for migration—it’s hard to miss the flocks of honking geese that fill the skies and mysterious warblers taunt me with their songs from hidden haunts behind the foliage as they rest before continuing their journeys. Did you know that some species of dragonflies are also migratory?

Most of the migratory species unsurprisingly spend a lot of time in the air. They are visible as they pass through our area, but are tough to photograph. This past weekend I manage to get shots of two of the migratory species at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The first one is a Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens) and the second is a Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata). What really stands out to me is the perfect condition of their wings, in contrast to the wings of the remaining resident dragonflies that are often tattered and torn this late in the season.

Wandering Glider

Black Saddlebags

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This Black Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerata) chose a beautiful perch and posed briefly for a couple of autumn portraits on Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Black Saddlebags usually spend a lot of time soaring high in the air, so it is a special joy for me when one lands and I am able to get some decent shots. I have never before managed to get a good look at their eyes and absolutely love the two-toned color combination.

black saddlebags

black saddlebags

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Black Saddlebags dragonflies (Tramea lacerata) spend most of their time flying, so it was a rare treat to spot this beautiful female perching recently at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. In the second image you can see the distinctive blotches on the dragonfly’s wings that make it look like it is wearing saddlebags, but the first image is my overwhelming favorite—the unique pose, the delicate coloration of the eyes, and the “artsy” overall feel of the first shot produce an emotional reaction in me than the more clinical second shot.

Do you prefer one image more than the other?

 

Black Saddlebags

Black Saddlebags

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Different species of dragonflies fly in different ways. Some soar high in the air and some cruise just above the surface of the water. A dragonfly’s wings allow it to perform all kinds of aerial acrobatics that are entrancing to observe. Given their size and speed, it’s a significant challenge to try to capture them in flight, though frequent readers of this blog know that I will sometimes spend extended periods of time trying to meet that challenge.

During a recent trip to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I noticed a dragonfly flying above my head. Its flight reminded me of eagles and hawks that I have seen gliding effortlessly on thermal updrafts. I couldn’t make out the flight pattern that it was following, but it repeatedly flew over me. Each time that it returned, I would point my camera almost straight up and eventually I was able to capture this shot of an easy-to-identify Black Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerata)—the pattern of black blotches on the wings are very distinctive.

Black Saddlebags

Later that same day I spotted a dragonfly making repeated patrols above the water. The dragonfly never seemed to rest or to perch, so I tried and tried to capture some shots of it as it zoomed on by me. Most of my shots were out of focus, but I like the one below. The choppy water in the background reminds me of the clouds that I will sometimes see when I look out of the window of an aircraft that has reached its cruising altitude. In my mind’s eye, I can imagine this dragonfly flying high in the sky, peacefully soaring above the clouds and the turbulence below it.

Prince Baskettail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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You know that summer is coming to a close when the dragonflies that were in constant flight earlier in the season seem to be resting more often, like this Black Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerata) that one of my fellow photographers, Walter Sanford, pointed out this past weekend at my local marsh. This dragonfly kept flying back and forth between two perches that were tantalizingly just out of the range of the 180mm lens that I had on my camera. I didn’t dare to take the time to change my lens, knowing that the dragonfly would almost certainly fly away at the most inopportune moment, so I ended up cropping a lot, especially in the first image.

The only shots that I could get of Saddlebags dragonflies earlier in the summer were in-flight shots and I have already posted some shots of a Black Saddlebags in the air. I realized, though, that I had not posted an image of its more colorful counterpart, the Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina) that I photographed during a visit to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia. I took that shot (the third one below) from a pretty long distance, but was able to achieve focus and capture some of the wonderful details of this beautiful red dragonfly.

Black Saddlebags dragonflyBlack Saddlebags dragonfly

Carolina Saddlebags dragonfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Normally when I think of saddlebags, I think of cowboys and the Pony Express, but there is also a species of skimmer dragonflies known as Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata). Someone obviously thought the dark patches on the hind wings looked like saddlebags.

Unlike many of the dragonflies that I often observe, Black Saddlebag dragonflies like to fly high in the air (and not low over the water) and some of them even migrate. I was alerted to their presence at my local marsh by a recent posting by a local dragonfly expert and fellow photographer Walter Sanford, so yesterday I kept one eye to the sky yesterday as I searched for subjects to photograph.

Black Saddlebags flew over me several times and I was fortunate to get some shots of one of them in flight. It might have been nice to have used a longer lens than the 100mm macro lens that I had on my camera at the time, but the shots turned out pretty well nonetheless. The first image is the sharpest image, but I like the entire sequence of the three images and the way in which they convey a sense of the environment in which I was shooting.

saddlebags1_blog The fi

saddlebags2_blogsaddlebags3_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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