End of the Season

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Filed under Outdoor Notes

October 20, 2010

They are calling for frost “in the mountains.” That’s us. So I spent the afternoon on somewhat of a farewell tour of some of my favorite dragonfly haunts.

Green-striped Darner

Green-striped Darner in flight

It was sunny, intermittently cloudy, in the low sixties with a breeze; there were a few Mosaic Darners hunting along the road, and a pair hunting along the pool in Little Buffalo Creek below the dam. We have five Mosaic Darners that fly in the autumn: Lance-tipped, Black-tipped, Green-striped, Shadow, and Canada. The dragonflies in this genus (Aeshna) are hard to tell apart, and I’m only fairly certain that these were Green-striped Darners (Aeshna verticalis).

Thorax detail, Mosaic Darner

Thorax detail; Green-striped Darner?

Now, anybody out there who knows dragonflies is probably saying, “how can you tell from that picture”?

Well…you can’t.

However, I took another picture that, although it is blurry and overexposed, shows some details of the thorax. I think that green, tomahawk-shaped pattern clinches it. Be sure and let me know if you think I’m wrong–it’s happened before.

The common Fall Mosaic Darner is the Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa). They are often seen well away from the nearest water. They like to hunt power lines and pipeline right-of-ways

Shadow Darner

Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa)

One of the great things about shooting with a long lens is that the lens picks up details that you didn’t notice. This happens more and more as my visual acuity gets less and less.

Autumn Meadowhawks mating

Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicininum) mating

There were a number of Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum), aka Yellow-legged Meadowhawks, working the pool. I can’t resist photographing these little red guys when the opportunity arises, so I snapped a shot of this bright male on an autumn leaf (they like to perch on big fallen leaves). When I downloaded the photo–lo, the lad is a-tristing with his lady love. Good to know there will be more Autumn Meadowhawks in the future.

Toward the end of the afternoon, one faded and somewhat-the-worse-for-wear Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) made an appearance; I’ve never seen one in October before.

Late Season Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher--he's seen better days

The shadow of the dam has spread over the pool, and a three-quarter moon has risen in a crisp clear calm evening sky–looks like frost.

The dragonflies have dispersed to wherever they will spend the night–which may be their last.

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